When one gets to the age called “seniority” he comes to discover a unique power nobody much younger could have ever possessed. It is the leverage of age.
Individuals in their 60s and older years are generally looked up to for their wisdom. If they are also blessed with high education and professional accomplishments they levitate in stature in the eyes of men. They could be the sages of their time and beyond.
As decision-makers in government and in the business world they may have the last word in vital issues. To question them or oppose their ideas could be seen as bordering on disrespect and contempt.
Seniors are supposed to be the repository of practical wisdom, vision, and lofty ideals. Their vision is somewhat prophetic, their ideals the ultimate norms for civilized society.
The leverage of age is best shown during deliberations of vital issues in the setting of a council or board meeting, where participants draw on collective wisdom to make momentous decisions.
While everyone present is given his time to express his thoughts, it is the voices of the elders that count most heavily in the voting. It seems as if an elder’s vote is worth more than the votes of ten younger colleagues.
Some people believe that decisions made in deference to elders’ ideas or that toe their line are likely to stand the test of truth and time. Constitutions, landmark judicial decisions and legislation are said to have been crafted by the wisest of men – and women – in their advanced years. It was wisdom distilled by experience and fermented by years. Indeed, in the quest for ultimate solutions the aged are still regarded as the sages with all the answers.
It is not surprising then that in the succession of corporate managership the traditional protocol is for the most senior to assume the vacated post. And only in exceptional cases is this seniority rule ever cast aside. As the Holy Book wisely notes, “Let the older men who preside in a fine way be reckoned with double honor.” (1 Timothy 5:17)
Privileged like royalties
In recent times seniors are even bestowed certain privileges that make them feel and live like royalties – purchase discounts, free movies, lower transportation fares, and priority in service lines. A man who just turned 60, upon getting his senior citizen’s ID card, remarked, “Now I can enjoy life better than in my prime!”
It must have changed his life too. Now he spends his afternoons in local moviehouses for free! The concessions to seniority must have been premised on the fact that aging ones have shorter time left to enjoy life. So they must have to get the most from it and still have fun. This could also be a long-deserved expression of love for them.
Elders’ noble gesture
But one’s increasing leverage as a senior citizen need not be used at all times only to his advantage. Among the noblest gestures a senior can show is to waive his privilege of priority in order to give way to a seemingly better proposition advanced by younger advocates. Showing humility is indeed a challenge to the older and wiser.
A wise elder will realize that seniority has no monopoly of wisdom. Neither is any icon of wisdom –even by reason of age – bestowed with infallibility.
Acknowledging this fact, a senior will take the course of modesty and thus make no pretense of knowing the ultimate solution to every problem on hand. Instead, he will be open to new ideas, even from less experienced colleagues, and discuss these with them objectively, without prejudgment.
Flexibility in thinking may even help to increase a senior’s leverage in the eyes of all. It is likely to draw higher respect for him. His leverage rises with stronger credibility.
Still, aging can raise difficulties that not so many seniors overcome with flying colors. Impatience may get the better of them. They may be bitter and demanding. They fret at every minor fault. They take offense at every failure by anyone to meet their expectations.
Their children, hirelings, and caregivers could find these elderlies most unlikable, intolerable and repulsive. But such behavior is usually the result of dementia, depression, or the worst nightmare of all – Alzheimer’s disease. If so, the ailing ones need not lose the respect of those around them. At this stage of their life, they should deserve utmost understanding and loving care. To do this, their children, family and close friends need only to remember them in their likeable best, how loving and caring they had been as parents or guardians, friends and associates.
On the other hand, some elderlies can be of pleasant disposition most of the time. They treat juniors as worthy students deserving their concern. They make the kindest of grandparents too. They delight in their children’s little children, treating them as playmates and seemingly a never-ending source of amusement.
Mentors and role models
In today’s age of apparently declining morals, when virtue is sacrificed for instant, materialistic and hedonistic pleasures, another challenge to aging ones is how to keep their own morals a good example for the young. Children look up to older ones for mentors and role models. But can they find enough of them around?
If you have turned grandparents yourselves, do your children and grandchildren see you as behavioral models they would be proud to imitate? Have you done much to make a difference and positively influence other people? Have you shown Godly virtues enough to lead them also to God?
May we pray as righteous King David once prayed, “Even when I am old and gray, O God, do not abandon me. Let me tell the next generation about your power. And about your mightiness to all those who are about to come.” (Psalm 71: 18)
To the younger generation those worthy seniors may thus rightly assume the role of mentors, eager, willing and able to pass on their wisdom, virtues and skills. This is their legacy, for which they will best be remembered with awe and respect – long after they had gone.
1 – Worthy seniors rightly assume the role of mentors, willing and able to pass on their wisdom and skills – their legacy, for which they will be remembered with respect – long after they had gone. PXHERE PHOTO