The other evening I was watching a program on our national TV station in which the audience asks questions of a selected panel of well known people in the community, including our politicians. Throughout the program quite a few questions were asked, and answered to varying degrees of competency. It is interesting that politicians on the panel are rarely popular as far too many of them just complain about what the other side of the political divide either did in the past or plan to do in the future, often disregarding the question asked and having to be reminded of it! It makes me realise how inadequate our current political system is.

The other evening was different in that the last question was asked by an elderly gentleman. He gave exactly the right amount of background to the question and asked his question very clearly and distinctly. There was a resounding amount of applause for him as he sat down, with one viewer sending in a tweet asking if the gentleman could be on the panel himself the following week!

As he sat down it made me realise that this man was representing the role that older people should have in the community, although unfortunately we are so used to being regarded as, and being treated as, second class citizens (ageism) that we rarely take on our specialised role. Some of the blame for this does lie with us older people but most of it comes from the community which is led to believe that we are blunders, and an expense which particularly those in employment have to carry. I am never sure in all of this what role the superannuation many older people have paid for years has in the discussion as it never seems to get a mention.

I hope that the event the other evening will inspire other older people to believe in themselves and their ideas and speak up. We need to be reminded that we hold an enormous amount of living history acquired through our many decades on earth and that this is important. What happens today doesn’t just happen in isolation. It builds upon what has gone before and what is to come. Yet the keepers of that knowledge are treated as second class citizens and discouraged from full participation. It impedes our true progression as a country and as a world.

I hope that the suggestion that the gentleman be invited to be on the panel in a future program. Then we would have an opportunity to witness what the true role of older people in our society should be. If older people can be persuaded of this then a whole new world would open up – literally!