Life Experiences and Priorities
Another factor might be life experiences. Potential civic leaders may never have had the kind of challenges and support in their lives that motivate them to want to give back to others. They declare, “I don’t do that,” and set aside any possibility that they will taste the benefits of civic involvement during their senior years. In some instances these seniors have “grown up” in corporate culture and don’t want to start over in learning how to work and be influential in the culture of nonprofit organizations. They had “stripes,” clear status, in the corporate world, but this doesn’t translate to the nonprofit world of volunteers unless it is earned. Often these seniors may not have had a history of public service in their own families of origin. That might make sense if it were not for the fact that many of the project’s senior sage leaders also had no tradition of civic engagement in their early lives; their parents were farmers who lived a long way from town, or they grew up in economically-challenged families that had no discretionary time for anything but income-generating work. Somehow these senior sage leaders learned the value of civic engagement without having had parental role models. It is interesting to muse about why and how these men and women discovered the benefits of voluntary service to their community.
Perhaps the lack of civic involvement on the part of some seniors is simply a matter of priorities. Other things going on in the lives of uninvolved seniors are deemed more important. This doesn’t make them selfish human beings, but a lack of motivating experiences does make them less inclined to serve other people and therefore more difficult to interest in things civic. As one senior sage observes, “It may be essential to get involved in civic activities right after moving here, and this involvement should not be short-term or superficial.” The lesson: If you are just pouring drinks at a Music in the Mountains event, this might not be enough to motivate significant community involvement—and not enough to yield the tangible benefits of civic engagement. On the other hand, small investments of time and energy may, in fact, eventually lead to something bigger. One never knows.
There are so many questions and so few answers about why senior men and women who possess sage leadership qualities are not civically involved in Twin Towns. Answers will have to await future conversations with those who are not yet civically inclined.Download Article 1K Club