The other day when I was shopping I couldn’t find an item I wanted and asked a fellow shopper. It turned out that she was an Asian lady with limited English but she managed to mime that it was in the next aisle but couldn’t tell me which side. When I went round there she was waiting for me with a smile on her face pointing to the item. I couldn’t help thinking that if there were more people like her in the world, who cared and wanted to help her fellow traveller, there would be less war and less violence.

We older people should be setting an example by also showing what humans can do to make the world a better place. So many older people feel that when they retire they have paid their taxes all their lives and can now be provided for without any obligations. They forget that as humans we all still need a role to play in our communities, and need to gain the respect of those around us. So many try to fill their lives with as much trivia as possible, such as lunching with other retirees, going to movies etc., generally telling people that they are ‘busy’, or ‘very busy’ failing to mention that they are busy filling their lives with trivia.

I am following a course on the history of the world and there is the idea that in early societies each group had to be self-sufficient, meeting all their needs from within the community. In today’s larger communities we are in much larger groups and have central bodies, such as councils and other authorities, to manage and provide for many of our needs. This in itself has taken away many of our individual responsibilities. Unfortunately it has also taken away many of our personal responsibilities and our identity. It is so easy to leave things to ‘them’. We think that as we get older we no longer need to have a contributing role to play in our community. We pretend that its OK for everyone else to provide for as many of our needs as possible. We forget that this attitude leaves us without self-respect so we immerse ourselves in this trivia so we don’t have time to face the reality of our situation.

We older people have so much to offer, so much knowledge, experience and wisdom yet so many of us are letting ourselves, and our fellow older people down, by our attitude. There is no happiness to be found in being bludgers in many areas of our lives, expecting others to help us out, when we could contribute ourselves. Our early ancestors, the ones who had just learned to walk upright, knew that. They had contributed to their communities all their lives but still felt that they needed to continue to do so for as long as possible. That way they retained the respect of their community.

The Asian lady, with her lack of English, still went out of her way to help. None of us have an excuse not to, no matter our age or our limitations. We will have a much better, more prosperous, more peaceful society if we do.