Many of us over 60 know the feeling of being invisible.
We get pushed out of the way by someone whose need to get on the bus is more urgent than ours – even though we are at the head of the queue and there are plenty of seats.
The same thing happens at the supermarket; we are not as dexterous at pushing the corner of our trolley into the quarter millimetre gap that means we get to unload our groceries first.
“It was always thus!”
Perhaps, but there was a time when we would politely but decisively say “Excuse me, I was here first” and the offender would stand back, sometimes even offering a “Sorry”. These days we are usually ignored and occasionally the sorry is replaced with an instruction to perform an absolutely impossible act even when were six, let alone 60!
So what has changed?
We all know many wonderful young people, so is the younger generation to blame for a our lack of voice? Teaching respect and manners was our generation’s duty – did we fail?
Have we heard only Mr Kipling’s “If you can fill the unforgiving minute, With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run” and ignored the equally strong “If you can wait and not be tired by waiting”?
Is it because the 40-hour working week our forebears fought so hard to achieve is effectively a thing of the past? Is there so much information available that we fear we will miss something if we don’t move now, leaving no place and no patience for those who are a little slower or greyer?
Or – have we older people given away our voice? Have we told the younger generation too many times that we have been there, done that and bought the tee-shirt? We know everything and they don’t; we earned what we have, they had it given to them on a plate; our interest rates were 17 per cent and higher, but we bought our houses; we had babies and no-one paid us maternity leave; we are owed our pensions because there was no superannuation and we worked for 40 or more years?
Have we developed voices so strident that we have become white noise? Have we whinged about the person who pushed in and not said firmly, “Excuse me”?
Have we become so blind to all but our own needs, that we fail to see there are limited resources? Did we squander the resources we had so now there ae no more to be shared?
Has the structure of our society changed so much that we do not revere our “Elders” but find them a drain on resources?
Are younger generations any worse than we were at their age? Are we invisible, do people fail to hear our voice, because that is exactly the example we gave them?
We could blame politicians of any ilk, but they are our children – did we teach them to be as they are? “I’ll take a pay cut to average weekly earnings” said no politician ever.
We have the opportunity for a new Voice, a collective Voice – it’s called Starts at 60! It needs nurturing, it needs opinions, discussion, debate to thrive. But if the Voice becomes too strident, doesn’t allow for civilised disagreement, we’ll revert to being white noise.
Desiderata says it well: Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Please discuss, share and respectfully agree or disagree.