I got a response to my last blog which is always good even if we don’t necessarily agree.
I’m very much in favour of our voices being heard but I think we need to be careful. The world we live in today is very different from the one in which we started out in life. Things happen very quickly today and the world seems to change constantly. This is the world both older and younger people have to live in, unless we are shut away in residential care but even there I think we need to keep in touch with the world. My endless concern is that one of the biggest problems for older people today is dementia and its one thing I dread. I’m sure if we do keep our brains active we stand a better chance of avoiding this than if we just squirrel ourselves away somewhere and ignore the world or wish for the past to still be with us.
If we do want to engage with younger people I think we have to make sure we are talking about something useful in today’s world, not something relevant to our past that no longer applies today. When I tell younger people about the research I am involved in into ageing they are always interested and ask lots of questions about it.
There are many ways we can communicate today, and tell our stories, which weren’t even on the horizon in our earlier days. One of my favourite books is Flora Thompson’s Lark Rise to Candleford in which she tells her life story, of growing up in a country cottage in England in the 1870’s. She just tells her story (written when she was in her 60’s) as she and her family had lived it with no judgements made. As a daughter in a working family her education was minimal as it was assumed that she would go into ‘service’, working for the better off as soon as she was old enough. No judgement, that was how it was in those days. I think this acceptance of her designated life was one of the reasons her book was such a big hit and contributes to the history of those times.
Today we have much more choice than Flora had. If we don’t want to commit ourselves to a book we can use social media to get our message across, such as Utube, Twitter and Facebook. Self publishing in whatever form we want is also easily available. We have the world at our feet if we have something to say that is interesting and relevant.
I think wisdom comes from learning from the past we lived through and applying what we learned to today’s very different world if it has a relevant part to play in it.