What Hillary, Bernie & Donald Can Teach Us
Before you think this is a political piece, it's not. No need to prepare for a discussion or debate -- there've been enough of them already. This is about breaking barriers.
Not all that many years ago, people who reached 60 or retirement were considered finished. Done. Few worked and many simply faded away into the lull of old age. Their usefulness was over. Years of experience gone. Hardly the truth today.
Hillary is 68, Bernie 74, and Donald 69, and each will turn one year older before January 2017. If any of them believed and, in turn, behaved as if they were finished, we wouldn't be watching in amazement -- at least I do -- at the incredible stamina of these "seniors" (what different sources call those at 55, 60, or 62) who are turning the political world on its ear. And I'm only referencing the age issue; we know gender, religion, and experience are others as well.
So I was thinking...if we can make the age barrier, which some would call a "label," a non-issue, why can't we do the same with a 12-year-old with autism, a 20-year-old college student with anxiety, or a 35-year-old with depression? Labels limit, both in terms of expectations (i.e. let's lower them and not expect much) and with achievement (i.e. let's assume failure). And once a label exists and a barrier created, the fight for inclusion begins.
As I participate in online discussion groups with adults who have disabilities, the topics of workplace discrimination, exclusion, fear of disclosure, and having to fight for their rights are always at the top of the leader board. It's an ongoing push-pull issue for those who are either left or right of center to get ahead of the curve. And when it's the parent of a child with a label, that fight is often lifelong, impacting school, college, home, family, work, employment and beyond.
Hillary, Bernie, and Donald can teach us what can happen when we turn a blind eye to the barrier of age. We see capabilities and if anything, there are higher expectations at play. I doubt many look at any of them and see...senior citizens.
No, these three are "kicking it" in their respective ways, demonstrating competence despite television commercials consistently telling us that those "that age" are struggling to remain physically active and are losing their mental edge. I truly marvel at the stamina and output from these three.
What they can teach us is that barriers can be broken. That they're often generalizations based in misinformation, fear, and assumptions. And we know what happens when we assume.
If those past 65 can do it, there's no reason we can't do the same for our children, our colleagues, or even ourselves. It takes guts to break through when others think otherwise...wouldn't we all be better off if we learned this lesson from them?