Commentary by James Turnage
The arrogance of Americans under 50 is annoying. Whether it comes from the late-night television talk show hosts or from sitcoms, the perpetrators of jokes about those of us who are over 60 are simply displaying ignorance about a generation which thinks for itself and refuses to be robotic and uncommunicative in our daily lives. We do not stare at a ‘smartphone’ as we walk; we refuse to claim that texting is communicating; and we will never admit that rap is a legitimate form of music. We are wiser from experience, and physically able to accomplish more than many who are thirty and forty years our junior who are obese from lack of bodily activity. And yet Ageism has become the ultimate American prejudice.
Beginning somewhere in the 1980’s a ‘youth movement’ began in businesses across our nation. Anyone over age 40 was given less consideration for employment than 20-year-olds. It failed miserably. You ask why. A very simple explanation; work ethic. We were taught at a very young age that if we accepted a job, we performed it to the best of our ability. We didn’t have to undergo classes about customer service, is was natural.
I must admit that we did have one advantage; we didn’t have to suffer through the employment practices of mega-corporations like Wal-Mart. The jobs we had in our teens and twenties were for smaller businesses who actually appreciated our efforts.
Getting older means getting better. We have learned what is important, and knowing that our time on this planet is not unlimited, we refuse to waste our time on social media and playing video games. There is more to life if we are active rather than passive.
We are more aware of what is happening in our nation and on the planet. We care. When our president tells us that we are sending American troops to a foreign country as ‘advisors,’ we remember Vietnam. When our government blows smoke up our behind telling us that they have our best interests as their priority, we know that they are lying. We are patriots, but only to the ideals of the United States; we don’t waste it on loyalty to a failed government. We value our possessions. We don’t want ‘new and improved,’ we care for items we have had for 20 or 30 years. And we cherish those we love, knowing nothing better will come our way.
Fifty-five and older used to mean retirement was near. Many senior citizens are choosing to remain in the workforce. We choose to remain productive. Labor projections are that by 2022 the numbers of those in the workforce above age 55 will grow, while those under 55 will diminish.
Humor aimed at senior citizens is the result of ignorance, not reality. We choose not to own every new electronic device; most of them have no more value than being time wasters. Most men over 60 do not need Viagra, contrary to the thousands of television ads claiming the opposite. Computers mean more to us than playtime; we read the news from around the world, and follow current events. The only reason I go on ‘Facebook’ is to see pictures of my grandchildren; I don’t receive them the ‘old fashioned way.’
From the time I can remember conversations with my mother, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, I was taught to respect those older than myself. Although the numbers are now greatly reduced, I continue to follow that rule. My life is far better now than when I was in my 20’s and fumbled around to find the meaning of life.
By James Turnage