In the past we were told to look after our youth as they are the future. Now I think, at least in Europe, the message should be that we need to look after our older generations as they have just an important a role to play in the future as the youth.
As Europe ages we need to find a solution. And it needs to be a long term one which is not based on returning to 10 kid families. Or the socially challenging (impossible?) task of integrating half of Africa into our society. However, I think the solution is going to be easier than many economists consider. Quite simply as infinite financial growth will not be the driving factor as we proceed into the new world.
Currently when you reach the age of approx. 60 you suddenly get written off from society -you can no longer provide a valuable input. What a waste. 60 years of experience which will now at most be shared with your direct descendants. As we live longer this is slowly turning into the half way point.
I have heard people calling this the Grey Generation, But try telling my mum that the colour grey is the best fit to her and her generation. She would never agree to this especially as she is currently up in the Andes visiting Machu Pichu. Which is anything but grey. I think she would agree to being part of the Silver Generation.
Anyone who has owned real silver cutlery will know that it is easier to stop it looking horrible than to repair it later with “Silvo”. In the same way we need to be looking after ourselves to prevent the Silvo treatment as we launch into the 2nd half of our lives.
Going back to my mother, she is the perfect example of silver that was well looked after: she has now turned 60 and is actually I believe doing more than before for society as a whole (she does more than visit spiritual sites in Peru!). But of course in general people nearing societies write-off date need to change. Need to become open to the changing ways of the world. Need to remove any bitterness they may have to how their life ended up. But I already see this happening in many of my mother’s generation (especially when compared to my grandparents). But not all.
My father-in-law provides the perfect example of silver cutlery pushed through the dishwasher one too many times. Bitterness, viewpoint dictated by his favourite tabloid, body ruined by physical overwork and eventually pickling his brain in schnapps so that he is now doing little more than awaiting the full time whistle. Which is such a waste when I remember for example the help he gave when doing up our old flat. All I have from his array of “hands-on skills” now are his huge selection of old tools which he doesn’t need in his retirement home – but which also I only know how to use a half of. A waste of the knowledge he could have handed on.
As I reach the supposed half-time in my career life and sit in the changing-room eating oranges and drinking tea pondering the second half, I now have more ideas than ever as to what I could do. And I suppose by the time I reach full-time I will have just as many as to how to spend the period of extra-time I hope I am awarded (being English I assume that I will not win the penalty stage but hope by then to have played well enough to win the game),
So what is needed? Well, I believe ongoing education is one thing. Many people seem to cram all the learning they are going to do into the first quarter of their life. This is ridiculous:
1. To adapt the Obama quote: the world changes and you have to learn about these changes.
2. You should always broaden your horizons.
This additional training & learning should benefit the Silver Generation in two ways: preparing them for extra-time and also helping them participate in providing the experience of their years to many others. And I don’t just mean training for the latest project at work.
I am also still not convinced that teachers for example should be allowed to teach until they have actually experienced a bit more of life. Although I am still undecided here as the teachers of both of my daughters fit this mold and have done an excellent job, But I believe that life studies (in many aspects) is something missing.
Anyway, in part 2 of this topic I will discuss what else is needed to prevent the Silvo treatment… and deal with the much harder topic of preventing bitterness & creating openness…