Florence Ross



Kofi Annan (1999), the Secretary-General of the United Nations, noted that, “A Society for All Ages is one that sees elders as both agents and beneficiaries of development. It honors traditional elders in their leadership and consultative role in communities throughout the world.” Older persons are among the world resources most often unseen and overlooked. It therefore becomes necessary to raise the consciousness of older people to their changing role in American and global societies to ensure fulfillment in their eldering years. Prior prejudice against elders has prevented inclusion of their enormous potential, of their accumulated experience and wisdom. This paper is directed toward determining how best to utilize the talents, wisdom and life’s experience of these elders to add meaning and substance to their lives, while affording them the opportunity to continue to contribute their talents and abilities as political activists and leaders directed toward peacemaking and social change.

Author Bio(s)

Florence Ross is a Citizen Diplomat from birth, with subsequent experiences as the President of secular, political, and religious organizations, an organizer of Human Relations Workshops for youths and adults, a lobbyist to Congressmen, a cancer researcher and an administrator, all performed in recognition that the world needed repair and transformation. From these attempts to build bridges between people of different ages and cultures, in an atmosphere where peace could grow with moral and spiritual ideas dominating, I learned that actual change comes from grassroots activism, nurtured relationships that become trusted ones and from direct dialogue. As a grandmother and great grandmother with a loving biological and extended family in countries the world over, I have seen the effectiveness of my elder status as a source of security, inspiration and example to emulate. Functioning as a participant in the Peace Summit of 1986, called by President Reagan and Secretary Gorbachev, the titles of “Grandmother of the World” and “Best Citizen Diplomat” were conferred upon me for chastizing the alienating policies of both countries. A little old lady taught that Citizen Diplomacy works! Entering Graduate School at age 73 to pursue a Masters Degree and graduating with a Ph.D at age 81, I was able to share intimate knowledge of unique events of the 20th century in which I had been a participant with fellow students and teachers. Of significance was that courageous aging recaptures the life potential of the older adult and challenges the younger person toward multicultural and intergenerational partnerships.


citizen diplomacy, consultation, demographic changes, elder peacemakers, elders, environmental preservation, intergenerational contact, leadership, life expectancy

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