EDITORIAL – The old person versus the old politician
YOU ARE AS OLD as you feel!
In light of Jamaica’s outgoing Prime Minister Bruce Golding’s call for a younger man to lead the country, this issue of age has again become the talk of the town.
In this era of advanced technological and medical breakthroughs, there ought to be less emphasis on age. The focus should be on agility and ability. Certainly, most countries have now increased the retirement age to almost 70 years, as people are living much longer.
Indeed, in some countries, there are anti-discrimination laws based on age.
The problem for Mr Golding and most politicians is that they may be young chronologically but old politically, having been in politics for too long. So they seem older and lacking generational vision.
For example, Britain has taken a step in that direction by scrapping the age limit for being “put to pasture”. With technology, new lifestyles and medical advances, a person today is active and productive much longer than in the past where age 60 was a benchmark for calling it a day.
In the present context, age per se, if one is healthy, is no longer such a major factor as is the mindset. There is a growing school of thought that equates dynamism and creativity with youth and believes that young people are needed to attract other young people.
This may indeed be so, but if it is done at the expense of experience, which is often priceless, then it is going to be lopsided and might not be workable.
In any event, it defeats the basic principle of physics that opposite and unlike poles attract.
There is also a fallacy that the older generation has been left behind where technology is concerned. Not true! For every young whizz-kid on the Internet, there is a middle-aged upstart with as much competence and savvy over what is going on out there in the World Wide Web.
In fact, all contemporary evidence suggests that the best years are after 55 when people have more time to think, their affairs and responsibilities are settled and they have what Plato called “leisure” to be more creative and level-headed in their dealings.
Again, because their ambition has been sated, older people are more loyal to organizations, tend to work harder so as to compensate for prejudice against age and are often more successful in their careers after this milestone.
One only has to look around to see that the majority of the still very successful have done so even after being considered “the older generation”. In addition, they have displayed more innovation and variety in the September of their years and seem self-assured enough to have a very good winter of content.
So, while in no way displaying resentment for the young, let us also accept that the wisdom and experience of the older people should not be seen as obsolete.