In the English folk song “Oh Waly, waly” there is a stanza that says “oh love is handsome and love is fine; and love’s a jewel when it is new, but when it is old, it groweth cold and fades away like morning dew”. In the media, one sometimes sees images of folks who were once associated with everything that was regarded as of the moment and worthy of aspiring towards. But time will do its job. It is very difficult to maintain that level of vitality and still go through the ageing process in a way that acknowledges the reality of nature.
Does this mean that we sometimes place too much value on youthful energy? In some cultures, it cannot be denied that there is an emphasis placed on making the most of one’s youthfulness, in order to make money for those who care about such things.
In other situations, it seems like it is helpful to be in the right place at the right time. African nations and ruling elites tend to favour specific generations in this way. The sponsor of an award for African political leadership was heard complaining in a widely circulated video clip about the increasingly geriatric nature of the leaders in most of the continent’s nations. Yet, that group of elites were in their twenties and thirties when they first attained power and influence.
How can societies and cultures provide opportunities for individuals to contribute what they have to offer, taking into account the wide range of attributes that can be found everywhere? What do the media and the world of business and marketing have to do with this?
Perhaps a good place to start is for those who comment on these matters to uphold the values in each culture that can be regarded as timeless. It shouldn’t matter that a person is young, old, good looking or plain. Common sense, wisdom, and similar attributes are more likely to last and be useful to all of us in the long run.