Ken Dytchwald on Maggie Kuhn

May 31, 2012 § Leave a comment

Ken Dytchawld just wrote a post on my hero, Maggie Kuhn, in the Huffington Post, see link below. Maggie founded the Gray Panthers and advocated for social justice. She was the mentor of my mentor, Carroll Estes.  I love reading and re-reading the roles that Maggie gave to older adults. From Ken’s post:

Kuhn:  We can try new things and take on entirely new roles. Let me describe them:

    • Testers of new lifestyles: In old age, we don’t have to compete. We do need desperately to cooperate, to live communally; to reach out to other human beings we never knew before. Our society worships bigness, numbers profits. I prefer to esteem smallness — small groups caring for one another, small groups of activists taking on giants. Small can be beautiful
    • Builders of new coalitions: Age is indeed a universalizing factor, enabling us to close ranks among the young and old, black and white, rich and poor — to form coalitions of power and shared humanity.
    • Watchdogs and watchbitches of public bodies, guardians of public interest and the common good: Cadres of watchdogs can observe the courts, watch city councils and monitor the public and semi-public bodies where critical decisions are made, often hidden from public view.
    • Advocates of consumers’ rights and whistle-blowers on fraud, corruption and poor services: We need patient advocates in nursing homes, advocates for the hearing-impaired, advocates of elderly residents in retirement homes.
    • Monitors of corporate power and responsibility: We can establish media watchers to monitor television and the press. We can organize protests in stockholders’ meetings, reminding the multinational corporations of the ultimate ethical questions involved in their operations, the need to protect their workers’ safety and the environment, etc.
    • Healers of a sick society: We can use our weakness and disabilities as powerful social criticism and levers for change. I’m enormously struck with what antibodies in the human body do to combat disease and put down infection. I’d like to think of us as releasing healers – people working out of their own understanding, their own sense of history, their own freedom from some of the tyrannies of earlier years, to help heal a sick society in whatever way they can
  • Educators of the young: By our example and by our reaching out and sharing what we know. The experience and skills of old people should be valued and utilized. As elders, we should see ourselves as being particularly responsive to the needs and questionings of our younger friends and family. When we are kept apart from those who will live on after us, we deprive ourselves and we also deprive the young; our society is correspondingly weaker because we have not lived together.


I would like to remind Ken Dytchwald that Maggie was a fierce advocate of Social Security, whereas I am under the impression, I may be wrong, that Ken is in favor of the privatization of Social Security.
I got this impression in San Francisco two years ago at the meeting of the American Aging Association, as I enjoyed one of his jam-packed lectures.

The beauty of Maggie’s message was to advocate for social justice, strong public programs, and equity especially for those that can barely financially survive – African American and Hispanic women living alone are a good example.
Carroll Estes and I wrote an article celebrating Maggie that can be downloaded for free in my website
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost


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