John Clark with a shorter than usual piece, but one that I need to write. Last night Beth and I were participants in the annual scholarship event run by our local couples club. We’ve been members for two years, like the members and enjoy most of the monthly gatherings. Last night, we had a local group The Lost and Found Band perform for free at the community center. We charged $6.00, $10.00/couple admission. 37 folks showed up and half of them were members of the club. Nobody was under 40 and possibly none were under 50 (I wasn’t allowed to check IDs). The music was really good, a mix of classic country, classic rock and tunes from the 1950s.
It was the latest example of something that’s really worrisome to me—Anyone under 40 isn’t interested in showing up physically for much these days. Sure, sporting events draw a crowd, but that’s because parents DO support their kids. Go to a Masonic Lodge, Lions Club, Kiwanis, etc. meeting in this area of Maine and count the number of younger (under 50) members. Go to town meeting and count the under 50 crowd, the numbers will be pretty slim.
Informal conversations and personal experience support my concern. Last week I was doing training at a rural high school library. The woman I worked with, doubles as town treasurer, doing most of her second job on Saturday. She’d love to pass it on to someone else, but her town has less than 300 residents and the majority are over 60. Another friend and I chatted at the concert. His Kiwanis Club, in a town of 7200 people, is down to five members and is at risk of joining the dinosaur ranks, even though they hand out a lot of scholarships annually. Another organization which I served as president and treasurer during a twelve year membership on the executive board (Friends of Maine Libraries), just folded because we couldn’t find anyone willing to step up and be a leader.
This ad has been running in our local newspaper for weeks.
Here’s the crux of this issue as I see it. We have two to three generations who now believe everything can be done through social media. Good luck with that, folks. What happens on the day when not one person is willing to be a selectman, budget committee member, or serve on a school board. How about when these folks realize that getting elected to either state or national legislative or senatorial vacancies requires something as rustic as actually knocking on doors and (Egad) having a face-to-face conversation?
There is hope, but many won’t like it or feel comfortable. I was a participant in this years Womens March, and the number of younger folks who gave up a Saturday and come to Augusta was amazing. So were the speakers (some of the best I’ve ever heard at a rally). Emily Cain, head of Emily’s List, had the most heartening statistic in years. More than 26,000 women are planning on running for political office nationwide. So, there are people willing to keep some parts of society working and I can’t wait for this November.