Most peace activists are old (the average age seems to be over 70) and suddenly peace groups everywhere are looking to replace their leaders. Many of those elders themselves implicitly accept the theory of “ageism,” which equates old age to conservatism; low levels of energy; technophobia; and obsolete ideas.
These four qualities often do increase with age, but not all at the same rate, so people lose their aptitudes at different ages. But still-effective real seniors are sometimes dismissed early, in a hope that some youths will join and fill their vacant roles.
Few actually do so. And because their lives are changing rapidly, youthful recruits rarely stay long. If a peace group is to outlive its founding generation, it must maintain an steady membership campaign all along—but less to recruit youths than mature members. Indeed, even middle-aged persons are usually too busy to volunteer much. The optimum age for a new member is about 65, when they are transitioning into retirement but have enough expertise to fill the roles of the first generation and enough prestige to attract prominent newcomers.
Yet of course some organizations stagnate and accomplish less. Their leaders should certainly be replaced—not for being too old but for being too conservative, rigid, or clueless. If the group has attracted outstanding new adult members, they can bring in zest, savvy, and insider experience when replacing the declining cohort. Every group constantly needs to keep aiming to expand and achieve better results, for contraction is lethal.
These are our standards at Peace Magazine, yet, like most other groups of our generation, we must plan for the inevitable change of leadership. We aim for a period of growth, not decline. In March of this year, we started livestreaming our weekly discussion series on Facebook, which you can also view at peacemagazine.org. (Podcasts are coming next.)
We hope to familiarize every peace activist in Canada with the magazine and our talk shows. We are seeking a potential editor in chief to train, and we are expanding our content to cover all six of the global issues that Project Save the World addresses. We are making new friendships with American activists, and may cooperate more across the border. Some of these aims may be too ambitious but that’s far better than the opposite.
Yet old age is real. A succession is inevitable and perhaps desirable. We ask you, our faithful readers, to propose new connections, new talents, and new institutional partnerships for us in the next few years. Send us your ideas, please. Thanks!