Like most parents with young kids, I'm not exactly current on current events these days. Politics, foreign affairs, health care changes, the election - it's all pretty much a blur. In fact, I'm slightly embarrassed to admit this, but I usually review my Facebook newsfeed before I glance at the NY Times' homepage. If you want to see the perfect blank stare, ask me about the Euro crisis.
I tell myself what most parents do: that when you have little kids, life is crazy and you can't be expected to know everything that's happening out in the world. And, to an extent, it's true. Between mommyhood, a hubby I adore, a super-fun business, and a slight semblance of a social life, my iPhone calendar overfloweth.
But here's the deal. As busy as I am, I have to admit that I could be doing more. In fact, when it comes to issues like education and the environment, I need to be doing more. And I'm not alone. When I look at my parent peers, I see just about everybody on the same old rickety bus, rolling along with our everyday lives and eschewing the sorts of activities that we know would be good for our families, our communities, and society.
Which leads me to the question: Why are we such slackers?
I'll give you the usual reasons. Money is tight, schedules are full, the political system is a big ol' mess, and we're all stretched thin. In defense of parents, I'll even show you awesome organizations like More Than Milk, which is making a difference right here in Chicago by connecting moms to local non-profits through meaningful volunteer activities. See, Wendy, you say, we're not slackers!
And I want to agree with you. I really do. But I look at our parents' generation, who after WWII were told to spend, spend, spend and in effect use, use, use up all of our resources, natural and otherwise. Then I look at the generation under us, and I see bold and brave attempts to create deep and lasting change to actually solve some of the dire threats to our collective future (hello, 17-year-old curing cancer).
Then there's us, the X-ers. It appears we've sandwiched ourselves between the generation that profligately spends and the generation striving to save. Maybe the Boomers and the Millennials have it easier than we do. Without kids scrambling around their legs, they have time to either run the water all day or to organize a global conference on some cool new technological breakthrough that will significantly reduces water usage.
Or maybe it's not that they have it easier. Instead, maybe we've just thrown in the proverbial towel. And that's such a bummer, because we've got so much to offer! Fancy degrees, great life experience, lots of extra little hands, and a desire to make the world better for our kids.
I wonder what it'll take to wake us, the Band-Aid Generation, up. What will get us to realize that instead of quick fixes we can indeed repair or reconfigure the stressed or broken structures that no longer adequately meet our community's needs? Wouldn't it be great if we could learn from our parents' mistakes and emulate the enthusiasm and passion of the teens and 20-somethings who are not using old formulas to solve new and complex problems?
By Wendy Widom, Partner, Families in the Loop
Wendy Widom is CEO of Familes in the Loop (FITL), Chicago's hippest hub for parents and kids.
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