The elderly are dismissed as useless | column René Diekstra

Things happen where it is actually unimaginable, let alone acceptable, that entire tribes do not revolt against them and show the instigators the social door.

One of these took place a week ago when Republican presidential candidate Nikki Hayley (52) in the US launched a series of political advertisements in which she portrayed her competitors Donald Trump and Joe Biden as seriously mentally handicapped, constantly stumbling, grumpy old men. Which no one should want as president, let alone as world leader.

Politicians aged 75 and over, says Hayley, should be tested for their competencies, with her undertone being that neither Donald nor Joe will pass.

Hayley doesn’t quite have it all figured out when it comes to age either

Besides the fact that such remote diagnoses are objectionable in any case, they also show that Hayley herself is not quite right about old age. Because they are ‘older’, like writer and television maker Laure Adler in her recent beautiful book Of Old People explains, an age is imposed by ‘young people’ who see themselves as ‘young’ for that very reason.

Which amounts to discrimination, because you refuse to use the knowledge, skills and wisdom of older people collected over decades and try to push them to the edges of society as much as possible. There are countless people aged 65 to 75 and older who could and would like to work very well for years to come in a range of professions, but do not get a chance. Not even in sectors with a major staff shortage.

Older is a social category

It is also significant that, with a few exceptions, no one over the age of 70 sits in the House of Representatives. Put differently, older is a social category, not a biological or medical one. The problem, then, is not so much physical deterioration as society’s intolerance toward the elderly, its refusal to tap into their accumulated wisdom and its attempts to isolate them.

Or as Haley is said to have said so delicately to Biden: “Man, retire well, then you will enjoy your life much more and we will enjoy ours too.” What she is actually saying, and many ‘young people’ unfortunately say with her, is that the elderly have not lost the right to enjoy life, but that they actually have nothing better to do. In fact, Hayley and countless others, not only in the US but also here, no longer see much use for society from the elderly, forcing them into withdrawal, into extinction, into extinction, even before their capacity for meaningful work has been exhausted.

Rebel against your extinction

Therefore, elders, rebel against your extinction, your extinction, and accept that this cannot and should not always be done gracefully. In my opinion, no one has so aptly characterized the dilemma at stake as the most talented and influential writer and poet in the German-speaking world ever, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832). I quote (in rhyme): ‘Old age is a courteous man, he knocks politely a few times, but no one lets him in, and he doesn’t want to stand at the door, and when he goes in, nothing can be done with it. start him.’

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