This entry is part of a series of blogs that connect political volunteering with spiritual themes. These observations come from my current volunteering for a congressional candidate. Today’s thought: Political volunteering is well-suited to older adults.
Many of the other campaign volunteers I work with are older adults. That shouldn’t surprise me—those of us who are older are really passionate about this election. Seeing this up close, I have wondered how and why older folks would participate so fully in the rough-and-tumble work of political volunteering. The following thoughts come from working alongside other seniors in the campaign of a newcomer to politics who is trying to unseat the incumbent in our congressional district.
What seems to drive older volunteers? I’m not sure about all of us, but let me tell you how this political volunteering works for me. First, I have the time, energy and financial wherewithal to support a candidate. With some sacrifices—campaigning can be physically and emotionally draining—I’m willing to devote my resources to what a candidate stands for.
I’ve lived long enough to choose carefully where I will put my assets to use. I’ve seen what needs changing; who’s still trying to fool me; what’s happened to this nation over the past few years; what is still noble, wise and hopeful. I try to be a discerning fellow, and so my choices come with a focused/chosen commitment. From my understanding of what comprises a faith-filled life.
Without the constraints of my professional life surrounding me, I can speak forcefully about my hopes for this world, about what needs changing, about what’s gone wrong. I can be candid in ways that don’t hurt others, speaking the truth in love. I hope that my emotional honesty can be compelling.
Where professional campaign workers need encouragement and perspective—perhaps even advice—I can offer the best of myself to younger staff members so that their leadership remains strong and focused. I can be a mentor, counselor and even parent-like!
Where I can see the big picture, I can offer perspectives that don’t get caught in traps of anger, fear, limited vision or short-term thinking. I want to apply the life lessons I’ve learned—about how people actually think—so that campaigns don’t go off the rails chasing theories or raw political passion.
Because I’m spiritually grounded, I can portray to others—including voters I encounter—a spirit of genuine love for the nation. I can exemplify what it means to see the greater good and call out selfish individualism as counter-productive for others’ well-being. I can forgive, bless and pray for the candidates and my volunteer colleagues.
By volunteering for political campaigns during our later years, we senior citizens can reconnect to what’s best in ourselves. Putting back to use our former talents can give us a renewed sense of life purpose. We can be drawn out of self-pity or anxiety. We can regain hope and courage.
Being an older person can make us especially useful volunteers, and in return we can be satisfied that our lives still have an impact that’s tangible, useful and positive.
For spiritually minded older adults—including me—it’s good to know that the political part of God’s will for the world could include us in our later years!