The Wisdom of the Elderly
I’ve just turned ninety and it’s the day after Professor David Goodall ended his life in Switzerland. I was undecided about this subject until now, but I feel it’s one of many topics requiring intelligent discussion by us all. I’ve felt for years that our leaders are not in touch with the true feelings of the society they represent.
If only there was a party in Australian politics willing to right the wrongs and stand for a truly exemplary Australia worthy of being on the world stage, a party that would protect the environment, ensuring that we have a safe and sustainable world for future generations, a party that would put an end to coal mining and replace it with renewable energy research and the construction of massive wind and solar farms, perhaps employing multitudes of people displaced by redundancies in other industries, a party that would give back to the stolen generations in real terms; help with housing, health care and genuine ongoing support, and at the same time educate the masses as to why we should do this, a party that would encourage innovation on the world stage.
We need a political party that openly encourages compassion within our society and loudly educates the reasons for doing so.
We need a party that says yes to the boats and manages refugees in such a way that would benefit all Australians, pointing out that it’s migrants that have made Australia what it is today, since 1788 in fact and could do so ad infinitum. White settlement began in this great country with the arrival of boat people.
We need representatives in government who don’t simply make statements to keep them in power, but put their collective hearts into everything they do, just because it’s the right thing to do. We need politicians who put an equal emphasis on science and the arts.
Imagine a political party that would just get better and better as time went on.
Where is the charismatic leader, the honest politician who would do everything possible to encourage all in society to become and remain a warm and welcoming group of people unique as Australians always have been? Where is this person? Why does politics so often attract mediocre examples of the human species?
As I said I’m ninety and many people think those of my age should be seen and not heard, just like we used to say about children. But in my Australia of the future, the one I want my grandchildren to enjoy, we’d be farming the oceans and capturing the power of the tides, we’d have organ donation as a standard practice with those wishing to opt out having to say so on their driver’s licence or on the electoral register.
We’d develop emotional and social intelligence amongst robots so as to assist in hospitals and aged care facilities.
If we do this right, we can be an example to other countries. We are in sport. Just look at what we achieved in the recent Commonwealth Games. We could be doing the same with all that I’ve mentioned and more.
We’d reuse as much as possible of our rubbish in road building, construction and the production of fuels.
We’d investigate the mind/body medical approach and do away with the needless reliance upon pharmaceuticals. We now have evidence-based proof that the mind can heal. We must put this healing method at least alongside other more traditional methods of healing.
In this Australia of the future we’d also allocate more money into medical research to cure Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and schizophrenia so that the next generation has a better chance of a longer and more fruitful life than my generation does. We’d step up all sorts of medical research, crossing the blood-brain barrier and formulate methods of nanoparticle delivery where all sorts of other illnesses and diseases become non-existent.
We’d develop CRISPR technology in the editing of genomes. By dissecting strands of DNA, there’s no doubt that we would be entering a potentially dangerous area of medical engineering, so this must be regulated. However the potentiality of clinically curing disease is just one element of the future of this technology. It can also be used to increase crop yields and thus feed the world.
We could lift every poor person out of poverty by having food production so well organised that nobody is ever hungry. We could manage our water properly, our rivers and storage areas and desalinate any shortfall. Mother Nature gave us the ocean covering 3/4 of the planet, yet we pollute the ocean rather than using it sensibly to make life better.
I am merely a retired high school maths teacher, but I have a brain and I don’t have Alzheimer’s. I have wisdom, a voice and positive ideas as do many others of my generation.
What the current type of politician might be well advised to consider is this: am I being compassionate enough in my dealings with my fellow human beings or am I just being a typical politician interested in staying in power? When I put my head on the pillow at night, am I happy every single time I do so, or are there times when I think I’m on the wrong trajectory? Am I really doing enough good?
There will be no turning back once we wreck what we once had. At that point in history it will be the beginning of the end for human civilisation, and that end will come quicker than anyone will be prepared for.
My final suggestion to the pollies is this: ‘Use the wisdom of the older folk, because with their help, monumental changes can happen.’
As I watch the evening news or read the newspaper as I reluctantly still do, I am often reminded of a quote by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato who said: “If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools.”