If you’re lucky, life is long. However, the quality of life is always more valuable to the sheer length of time we live. With the privilege of having made it to advancing years also comes the responsibility to hand on our wisdom and support to younger generations.
As a child I remember running in the English woodland in spring up to the knees in daffodils and blue belles. Sadly both flowers became much rarer over the years, even to the point of extinction in places. As for that beautiful woodland, it was bought by a development company that built an enormous, hideous theme park where people paid money for a far less specular experience than wandering in the woods for free.
Some progress, such as new surgical techniques, mobile phones and Skype, have improved our quality of life. Unfortunately many money-making ideas threaten the quality of our lives, so perhaps we should offer our wisdom and add our voices to the debate over issues that affect us and others.
The Knitting Nanas are one such group who protest against the intrusion and devastation of coal seam gas drilling on precious natural land in Australia. They turn up to lobby MPs and support environmental protesters by sitting, knitting and talking.
Doris Haddock, lovingly known as Granny D, walked across America at 89 years old. She walked 3,200 miles protesting against corporate corruption and is largely credited with galvanising efforts to push through the Finance Reform Act. Her efforts and activism in her nineties clearly helped to change laws.
The great American singer Neil Young, now in his seventies, still produces music and songs, touring the world with a powerful environmental message that is reaching new audiences of all ages.
Shelley Argent from PFLAG has been campaigning for years for equal marriage rights for all sex, gender and sexuality diverse people, including her gay son. Her very public voice has reached out to many older Australians, showing that equality is nothing to be afraid of but something noble to be embraced.
The iconic Sydney-sider Danny Lim stands in the streets of the inner-west suburb of Newtown wearing sandwich boards on which are written messages asking people to smile or appealing to the better nature of politicians who have forgotten their humanity. In his senior years he has become a local, revered institution.
Our quality of life is being eroded for so many reasons. The young are often so busy trying to survive and make their way in an ever competitive world. Older voices can be soothing, reassuring and give the benefit of experience.
So it doesn’t matter how old you become, the world needs you to speak up. Become an agent of change for human or animal rights. Protest against unconstitutional acts by governments and large corporations. Condemn prejudice and discrimination.
With age comes the responsibility to add your voice to the debate and sometimes that may mean holding a placard, sitting down in the street or making a public statement.