I watched our president being interviewed by Ryan Tubridy on the occasion of his 80th birthday. I was, and not for the first time, struck by what an exceptional man is An T-Uachtarắn. As a nation we can be so proud of our head of state.
What extraordinary sharpness, intellect and enthusiasm does President Higgins possess and what a wonderful conversationist he is. The abiding lesson that came out of Friday’s Late Late Show, was a message for that blind brigade who insist that ‘old fogies’ should be thrown on the scrap heap as soon as they reach ‘pensionable age.’ We wrote in a previous column about the notable percentage of Japanese people who are living to be over a hundred – simply because they do not ‘retire.’
A certain individual, who shall be nameless, has expressed the opinion, in my company, that the over 70s should be the last ones scheduled for Covid vaccine. His theory is that retired people can stay safe at home, whilst the younger population gets vaccinated in order to drive the economy and keep the country moving. Like I say, it wouldn’t be fair to name him here: Suffice to say that he is wrong and such comments may well affect his inheritance.
‘Age is honourable’, they tell us; but there are those who would like to add the proviso, ‘but just sit there in your corner and stay quiet!’ Just think of all the know-how that would be left sitting unused in that corner?
Ageism is a relatively modern phenomenon. Down through thousands of years, and in all cultures, it was the elders who were consulted when important decisions had to be made. With life expectancy increasing dramatically there is more collective wisdom retained and it is more important than ever that seniors remain at the helm. Septuagenarians of both genders are possessed with the wisdom of their age. This, coupled with the fact that older people are in better shape than ever before means we are of both sounder mind and body!
Why are so many people reluctant to admit their age after they reach a certain milestone? Have we been cowed into feeling ashamed of getting old? Isn’t how far we have come something we should be boasting about? The beauty of reaching say, seventy, is that you are whatever you are ever going to be. Everyone knows what you are like (Ah Lads … please shut up!) and you don’t have to ever pretend, nor do you have to prove yourself anymore. And another thing, Lads, the over-seventies don’t give two hoots what anybody may say about them!
The most successful corporations in the world are not headed by young whizz-kids, but by mature CEOs who are battle hardened from navigating the jungle of business life.
What about the great world leaders? President Higgins may not qualify as a world leader, but he leads from the front of the nation that is behind him. President Biden is 77. Mr Biden says that all of his life’s hard work, its trials and tribulations, was all necessary preparation for the job he has to do today.
Queen Elizabeth is 95. What an inspirational monarch she has been – and continues to be for the British people. The queen may be regarded as only a figurehead by many, but the manner in how she has handled her role – especially in recent years, is one of the greatest examples of the benefits of nobody being forced into retirement. She puts in a daily workload that would exhaust somebody half that age.
Pope Francis is 84. When he is not travelling he puts in up to sixteen hours a day at his workplace. Not bad for a man who is twenty years past the Irish retirement age!
I did hear in the last few days that Cuba’s Raul Castro, is stepping back to lighter duties. That just means he will only be making the important decisions! Raul is in his 90th year … and maybe he wants to take up a bit of golf or something!
The President of Cameroon, Paul Biya (yes, Lads, I did have to Google this one – and the following two presidents as well!) is 87. But do you remember Roger Milla playing for Cameroon in the 1994 World Cup, at the age of 42? (I didn’t have to look that one up!)
Mahathir Mohamad stepped down as Malaysia’s prime minister last year at the age of 94 and Bounnhang Vorachith, the president of Laos is a mere 83 years of age.
And there are those who might raise their eye-brows at the idea of someone of my vintage thinking of running a country pub! – But I’ll take my cue from Joe and Michael D!
A good example has twice the value of good advice.