On my last birthday, my older brothers took a bit of time to accept that their youngest sibling is a 50-something. To them, I’m forever the youngest which is true when compared to them and that stuck in their minds as someone in the 30s or 40s, just a bit older than their own children.
Being the youngest has its advantages. As a kid, my brothers had to give in to me most of the time or one at a time, that is, if I couldn’t get something from Number One, I went to Number Two and Three, in whatever order that suited me.
Of course it doesn’t work now, hasn’t been working for a long time. We’re all adults though I do enjoy a special place in their hearts as the reigning youngest child in that generation.
Growing up, I watched them through different phases in their lives like a preview of what’s to come for me, male version. I only got to learn sisterly stuff with close girlfriends and later from my sisters-in-laws. Still, it was interesting to learn about the things they went through and picked up wisdom nuggets along the way.
Today, my brothers are approaching or in their 60s, an age that’s generally accepted as senior, a euphemism for branding someone as “old”.
This morning, I watched a TED Talk by Jared Diamond on How societies can grow old better. He discussed the way old people are viewed and treated differently in different parts of the world. It is mostly depressing, if I must conclude of his talk. He has his points but I think he’s being too scholastic and draws too much into traditional, tribal, diverse worlds and times. His talk sounds even defensive.
We don’t need to be defensive about getting old when everyone in this world is experiencing the same thing from the new born to the oldest old person. It’s a natural process. But wait, what is not natural is society. Societies are man-made. That’s the problem isn’t it?
Today’s societies are different from one or two generations ago. As the pace of progress intensifies building on material acquisition, the framework of values and beliefs shifts into the background.
How society treats the old is reflective of how we teach our children. Our parents build these societies, we continue with their work and pass them to our children. So forget about what the government must do for us, what’s right or wrong, just work on what’s closest to us – our family.
At the end of the day, it’s always the family that we can count on regardless of age.