Initiatives of Change has been around for decades, having first been a movement and only in more recent years becoming a formal organization, meaning that we have members on both ends of the age spectrum. We consider this a unique aspect of our network – the contribution of our senior members is no less valuable now than it was when they we’re younger. In fact, what our Panel of Elders and other senior members contribute is something that younger members might take for granted; a lifetime of experience.
Ageism is one of many divides in our society that we must work towards bridging. We encourage our senior members to mentor and accompany those who would seek to learn more about our values. This one of the primary tasks of the Panel of Elders, whose wisdom and experience help to guide our network. This past summer, we welcomed new Panel members whose perspectives and mentorship will help shape our collective legacy. Teresa Luckhurst is new to the Panel, and we asked her to share her thoughts on connecting the generations.
‘At 53 years old, I was recently appointed a member of the Panel of Elders. I was introduced to Initiatives of Change 15 years ago by David and Judith Curtis. Since then, I have volunteered with IofC in Sheffield, UK. Over the past few years, David and I discussed his role as an Elder and what it meant to him. He was thinking about who might be interested in taking on the role when the time came for him to step down.
Fortunately, he felt that I would be a good choice! So, it is with awe and deep respect that I recognize it is up to me to carry the baton forward. I feel that I am a link between the older generation in the IofC community and the younger generation that is following in my footsteps. The wisdom I humbly take from my fellow elders is amazing. I hope to add my knowledge and skills to this group, so that we can transfer this wealth to younger members through mentoring and engaging in meaningful conversations.
At Caux this summer I met Hamza, a young man in his 30s from Lebanon, who was part of the Caux Scholars Program. He was one of the ‘books’ at a human library event during the Caux Forum, which I joined to listen. Afterwards he requested we meet one to one. We negotiated a time in his busy schedule and sat outside to share our life stories. Hamza told me that he is working with young people, too. We felt that we are each a link for the generations below and above us. We recognized that we have a special role to play, as “bridges” between the old and the young.
With the rich history that IofC has, there is a place for passing on the wisdom and lessons of our collective and individual past. However, the knowledge of the older generation cannot be handed over like a book of answers. It might be better transferred as a ‘human library’ – connecting, through stories, as friends.
Since leaving Caux, I have stayed in touch with Hamza through Whatsapp, even though as a middle-aged woman I find it a challenge to keep up with the technology the younger generations use so easily. Because of our connection and shared understanding, I make the effort to learn. There is much that we can learn, from each other, one generation from another.’