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“Aging is tough, but it beats the alternate.” – Morrie Schwartz

Sean’s monologue topic: How Ageism negatively impacts America

Today we are joined by Rob Schwartz, an Award-Winning Music/Film Producer, journalist and entrepreneur with 20+ years of entertainment experience. He is also the son of Morrie Schwartz, one of our culture’s most celebrated senior citizens and the subject of the best-selling book and Emmy award-winning movie Tuesdays with Morrie. (And also a play that is extremely popular in China and Japan).

Rob starts by telling the story of why, how, and when his father wrote the not-so-new book, The Wisdom of Morrie: Living and Aging Creatively and Joyfully, and how he found the completed manuscript decades later. To avoid confusion, Rob points out the distinction between this new book and Tuesdays with Morrie, which was written by his father’s former student, Mitch Albom. Tuesdays was published first, but Wisdom was written first, before Morrie was facing a fatal illness. The two books share a similar theme, but with a different presentation. When asked “What are your favorite parts of your father’s book?”, Rob replies “The times that he mentions me!”

Sean and Rob discuss the content of Morrie’s book, which Sean describes as “life affirming” and “a manifesto of living.” Rob affirms that his father’s book is not just for older people but is a roadmap to a happy life. The book teaches readers to take what you’ve learned in life and decide how you can move forward and be better. While telling full of stories about other people and their personal burdens, traumas, and anxieties, The Wisdom of Morrie, addresses negative aspects of aging as well as the positive. Ultimately, Morrie’s advice to older people is “You need to engage.” Whether that be with family, community, or interests. Don’t withdraw. Pursue interests. Make connections with new people. Engage with the world both emotionally and intellectually, at whatever level you find comfortable. Later on in the discussion, we learn about the academic book that Morrie wrote as a precursor to this more widely accessible version. “What does it mean to be human?” is the basis of all Morrie’s Schwartz’s research and investigation.

Rob shares details of his father’s fascinating life – like how the university where he worked tried to force him into retirement, and how Morrie was so concerned about the poor accessibility of mental health care in the 70’s that he helped found a clinic to provide free or low-cost therapy to those who couldn’t afford to pay. 

Long before the America was acknowledging the concept of ageism, Morrie coined the term “age-casting” with the theory that if you can name a concept, you can analyze it and find ways to deal with it. Rob shares examples of age-casting, and he compares and contrasts how American and Asian cultures view the elderly.

Finally, Sean and Rob address the question of what will happen with ageism in our society as the large “Baby Boomer” population continues to grow older? Listen as Rob shatters all of Sean’s optimism.

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