Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Why bother to express an opinion, never mind take a stand? Doesn’t matter what some old man or woman thinks. This is a young people’s world.

I feel that way often. It’s a continuing question for me, What’s the point? I’m retired, bone tired and so completely obscure I’m the last man on earth who reveres Frankie Trumbauer on C-melody sax and cornetist Bix Beiderbecke playing “Singin’ the Blues,” the greatest jazz classic of all time.

So again, why bother to keep my frayed old oar in the water?

I get my answer from an on-line friend who tags his web site with the motto, “Don’t die before you die.” (thirdaactproject.com)

Here's what keeps me going, and if you need a push to get your blood flowing, you are more than welcome to join me in taking on the causes that prevent me going gently into the night. Really, so much happens during the day it’s not easy to fall asleep.

Over the weekend we had a quiet Passover Seder to introduce our eight-year granddaughter to some of the traditions about which she was curious. It didn’t take more than a sip of wine and a dip of parsley in salt water to come to the story of the Exodus – the escape from slavery that the holiday commemorates - and to use the biblical fable as an indignant reminder that millions of women and kids are trapped in slavery today.

Pharaoh would have been a small-time villain compared to companies such as Nestle and Hershey using cocoa farmed by kids who should be sitting in my granddaughter’s second grade class. Or H&M, Forever 21, Nike and Zara making cheap garments and shoes using desperate laborers who are barefoot. Not to overlook the five million women trapped in sex slavery, worldwide.

Tuesday’s Chicago Tribune had a wonderful column by Heidi Stevens, reviewing the new book by Melinda Gates, “The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World.” I’ve written often about the on-going struggle for gender equity but the stirring message from Mrs. Gates adds muscular philanthropy and undeniable authority to the cause. “It’s a clear choice – challenge the biases or perpetuate them” was the quote that fired me up. Her reference to girls forced into marriage before puberty is a disturbing statistic to most of us and personal history to my wife: her Turkish grandmother was sold into marriage at age thirteen!

It baffles me that otherwise successful societies still tolerate, even reward men for violence against women. Surely in this 21st century it’s high time to evolve our definition of masculinity. We old guys perpetuated the gender bias that still prevails; now it’s time for amends; and action, joining the movement as role models for our families and work places.

Just about every day there’s an outrageous bleat of a tweet from the White House that puts another crack in the foundation of our Republic. Or some disturbing report of mass shooting at a synagogue or a church torched by a white supremacist. Rage, rage against the dying of democracy!

I’m realistic about the effects of my soap box rants. Two or three comments in response to this post is the typical traffic count. But I – we – must keep burning and raving, and adding our concerns and consternation into the cultural conversation.

Think of the Butterfly Effect, the power of a butterfly flapping its wings in New Mexico to cause a hurricane in China. The connection is real; under the right conditions even the smallest change can lead to dramatic results.

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