Youth has always exemplified fitness, zeal, emotions and risk taking, while Age exemplifies maturity, wisdom and understanding. The Generation Gap arises from the ignorance of the Youth about the elderly and from the forgetfulness of the elderly of their young days.
What is Age? What is Wisdom? How the zeal of Youth is tempered by the wisdom of Age!
Quotations for consideration:
- “In Youth we learn : in Age we understand” – Marie Ebner Von Eschenbach
- “Life can be a process of Growing or of Ageing… the choice is ours! Ageing is adding years to our Life. Growing is adding Life to our years!” – Anon.
- “Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.” – Karen Kaiser Clark.
- “No wise man ever wished to be young” – Jonathan Swift
- “Would I wish to be “young” again? No, for I have too much, to wish to lose it. I am a far more valuable person today than I was 50 years ago, or 40 years ago, or 30, 20 or even 10. I have learnt much since I was 70. I believe I can honestly say that I have learnt more in the last 10 years, than I have learnt in any previous decade.” – Pearl S. Buck on her 80th birthday.
- “You can be young only once. But you can always be immature” – Dave Barry
- “You are young, my son, and, as the years go by time will change and even reverse many of your opinions. Refrain therefore a while from setting yourself up as a judge of the highest matters.” – Plato.
- “I am not young enough to know everything” – Oscar Wilde
- “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young”. – Henry Ford
- “Experience is not what happens to you. It is what you do with what happens to you” – Aldous Huxley.
- Age, usually measured in Chronological terms (years), can also be measured in Biological terms (fitness / health) or in Cognitive terms (mental acuity).
- Wisdom accrues out of Knowledge, Experience and Maturity. Knowledge from learning. Experience from mistakes made while doing. Maturity from empathy and control of emotions and desires.
- As the average life span increases and more avenues for learning are available, more people have more opportunities to attain to greater wisdom as their years go by.
- Average life span of individuals for most of human history was barely over 30 years. Most died very young, below 15 years, and only a handful lived to 50 years and even less to 60. Three score & ten (70 years) was very rare. Today the average life span in most countries is over 60 years and many live into their 90’s and even 100’s. The confirmed longest lived, was a lady who lived to over 122 years and 7 months.
Recently a 40 odd years old ‘leader’ demanded that as more than 80 percent of the Country’s population was below 45 years of age, it was only fit that at least 80 percent of political leaders, at the top, be from those below 45 years.
Such a demand then begs the question, that as 60 percent of the population was below 30 years wouldn’t it be equally just to reserve 60 percent of the posts for those below 30? Also why stop there, 35 percent of the population is below 15 and hence there may be equity in reserving 35 percent of the positions for those below 15! Where does one draw the line? Is youth the only criterion of a capability to lead or guide the Country, or is it wisdom – gained over years, from knowledge, experience and maturity that would be a better measure?
To answer this question effectively it is first necessary to understand the following:-What is Age – is it a Chronological Measure or is it a measure of Health and Fitness or are the qualities of Wisdom arising from Knowledge, Experience and Maturity, the right measure?
Is such wisdom attained by Chronologically aging each year or could there be a difference between the many who live one years experience 20 times over in 20 years, and those who add to their knowledge and experience every year of their lives (like the Nobel Laureate Pearl S. Buck quoted above), or is old age only a decline in physical capabilities which may not affect the capability of the person to function adequately in the chosen sphere of activity (remember Stephen Hawkings, his neuro-muscular disease does not make him any less regarded as a Physicist, for examples closer home – is Kushwant Singh at 96 any less as a writer or Ram Jethmalani at 88 any less in demand as a lawyer?)