AGEISM – THE NUANCES OF IT!

In the television series The Crown there is a heartbreaking moment when the recently widowed Queen Mother of the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth remarks at being sidelined when she actually needs to be active in order to help her cope up with her loss. Her lament is a telling reflection of the many who go through the throes and woes of retirement.

Psychology Today has reported in 2009 that an aging brain is a creative brain, so much so it was suggested that instead of retiring people at age 65, we should be transitioning them into more creative jobs. Research also shows that the most valuable patent applications are more likely to come from inventors typically over age 55 and the age of Nobel winners are getting higher every year. Another study shows that inventors don’t actually peak until their late 40s and become more productive over the last half of their careers.

WHO defines Ageism as referring to the stereotypes (how we think), prejudice (how we feel) and discrimination (how we act) towards others or oneself based on age. Ageism is everywhere: from institutions and relationships to ourselves. Ageism affects everyone, intersecting and exacerbating other forms of disadvantage such as those related to sex, race and disability.

Ageism can change how we view ourselves, erode solidarity between generations, devalue or limit our ability to benefit from what people can contribute, impact our health, longevity and well-being and have far-reaching economic effects and consequences. Ageism is real and a degrading social malady that affects retirees and those above 60 years, more than any other section of society.

Overlooking the plight of retirees is real and minimizing or neglecting their role in society past their superannuation not addressed at all. The Bible illustrates the role played by elders, insisting upon the value of older people in imparting guidance and counsel. God’s word designating them as sages and elders, insists upon their ability to create stability and provide clear solutions to issues. Nations, peoples, cultures, societies, families all flounder and fail when they ignore the experience and wisdom of those who are in the later stages of life.

A case in point is the story of King Rehoboam, who inherited a thriving and prosperous kingdom, the legacy of his father, the great King, Solomon the Wise. When an emergency petition was placed before him by a national delegation immediately after his coronation, he chose to listen to the unwise input of his cronies rather than giving ear to the diplomatic advice of the experienced elders of the land. Due to this, 80% of his people elected to follow a new ruler, another kingdom was formed and his territory was reduced to the remaining 20%. All the glory and wealth he inherited was handed over to another because of his unwillingness to honor age and promote their working.

Every culture and nation has stories and legends that describe and point out the importance of those who are old in the fabric of society. It is sad that the world of today ignores and sets aside those above 60 years. In the time of life when they are best equipped to impact, they are classified as seniors and therefore, redundant. At an age when they have the emotional and mental resources as well as the time to serve the best, they are pushed to the curb, to wistfully stand watch. Most of them, like unused grain that rots away, endure their exile and fade away into oblivion, leaving behind a society that has no idea of its loss.

A wonderful remedy to this problem is showcased in the movie The Intern. It follows the impact created by a retiree who is part of a group of seniors recruited to work as interns by a growing online fashion firm as part of their corporate social responsibility. The employees of the company, all young and under the retirement age, look with amusement at these interns, wondering what these oldies would be able to contribute, especially since most them aren’t tech savvy.

The Founder and CEO of the company, a woman in her twenties, at first considers the one assigned to her as a liability, but slowly begins to see his worth as he uses his wisdom, experience and equanimity of temper to constantly help her in different ways. He becomes a trusted friend and confidant, able to share in her work and aid her in her deepest concerns, guiding her with his sagacity when she is at a crucial crossroads in her life.

In countries such as in India where employment opportunities for the young must take precedence over the need of seniors, alternate tasks such as financial training, personal one-on-one counselling, marital dispute resolution, simple home care etc can be envisioned by firms as roles for retirees.

How wonderful it would be to see such partnerships develop in real and not just in reel life!

*https://www.who.int/westernpacific/news/q-a-detail/ageing-ageism

*pics courtesy unspash.com, shutterstock and google images.

A NOTE ON PASSIVITY

Passive spirit vs meek and quiet spirit is about not being lazy but possessing a calmness that’s born of dependence and trust in God.

Violent vs being aggressive is about not being unruly but being militant to claim what rightfully belongs to you in Christ and not giving place to invasion and annexing by any other.

Passive spirit Vs Timely action is about not sitting down but acting on God’s word with quiet confident dependence on God that produces a stillness of heart and mind resulting in the fruit of the Spirit.

Wrath of man vs righteous anger is about not meekly submitting to injustice but rising up against unrighteousness to protect those who are weak and defenceless and as such unable to fight for themselves.

Passive spirit is dangerous for it opens the door for demonic oppression and possession, while an alert and renewing mind will bring sensitivity to His word and a yielding to His Spirit.

Passivity is lethargy that produces slow paralysis and make a person a burden for others to carry. Jesus told the paralytic, rise and take up your bed and walk, because the way to overcome deadening of limbs is action. For then new blood flows all over rousing the atrophied limbs that have been hibernating and new life rejuvenates you to surmount the bonds of death and decay.

Passivity is antithesis to being an overcomer and taking stand in the spirit. It is sleeping on the battlefield and resting when you should be fighting and defending your own, alongside with your comrades

Passive people are dead weights that a church/family/person have to carry, sapping the energy and strength that is sorely in need for others who desperately need us.

Difference between passive people and those who genuinely need us is that the former are people of potential who refuse to work and stir themselves up, while the latter try to help themselves inspite of their shortcomings.

You can identify such ones by the words they speak which will primarily be gossip since they have time to waste. Their negativity will drain you even your active spirit and most used part of their being would be their wrong thinking and their negative words.

Difference between being active and being activity-prone is that the former know when to what to do and to rest in quiet stillness. The latter are in constant pendulum-like motion that is ceaseless and create restlessness in others. Concept of Sabbath quietness is foreign to them and what makes them tick is fear not faith!

In the church, especially in counselling, it is important to understand these concepts and concerns. Such understanding will go a long way in being able to discern and help those who require unravelling of emotional knots and deliverance from crippling fears.

Let us be skillful surgeons and nurses in recovering and restoring emotional well-being and mental health!

*Photos from unsplash.com