Tuesday,21 November, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1183, (6 - 12 February 2014)
Tuesday,21 November, 2017
Issue 1183, (6 - 12 February 2014)

Ahram Weekly

Let the young carry the torch

The Athenians chose the young men, broad of shoulder, strong of sinew, to carry the Olympics torch from city to city.  The old, saw  fit to lay down their weapons, declare a truce from the endless wars and challenge each other in prowess and physical ability. Together they executed one of man’s noblest endeavours --- the Olympic Games!

The Olympics have survived the centuries, because they exemplify the finest symbol of fair and impartial competition. The word ‘games’, reminds us that man must not take himself too seriously. Yet all these lessons are lost to this generation, burdened with the hazards of treachery, perfidy and infidelity.

When does life peak? In youth, middle age or old age?  Several ages have been set for the peak of life, but is there a definite time for life to peak?  Some believe all goes downhill after age 30 or 40, but researchers have proved this to be nonsense.  They may not be able to carry the torch with glowing bare breast, but there is so much they can accomplish, where the young are witless and unschooled.

A Gallup poll conducted in 2008 with over 340,000 people, showed that adults, (a much finer description), in their 70s and 80s, are significantly happier and more satisfied with their lives than those half their age. Nothing spells success better than happiness, so who peaked too soon, and who still seek their peak?  Not the young or old, but the active, the doers, the thinkers, the ambitious, the optimists and those who continue to learn regardless of age: “for they have promises to keep, and miles to go before they sleep”!

Youth possess the strength, the courage, the ideas and the challenge!

Adults possess the experience, the wisdom, the foresight and the patience!

One cannot do without the other!

As we brace ourselves for a new government, there is talk that the old should be set aside in favour of the progressive young with their courage and novel ideas. This is a startling thought! Who can sustain the trials, errors and pitfalls the young are sure to fall in. Most of our mistakes are made during our “salad days, when we are:”green in judgement, young in years”?  How many of our young lie idle and useless in jails? How many are wasted and dazed by drugs and alcohol? How many have been brain-washed by extremism and terrorism?

Adults use their mistakes as stepping stones to success. If only scientists could keep the young alive and well into their 90s. What if the locks turn snow white? What if the step is less agile?  Let the vision of the future remain clear, let the spirit remain young! The best is yet to come.

Retiring at 65? How ridiculous! American comedian, George Burns, who lived and worked till after his centennial, exploded: “When I was 65, I still had pimples”!

Old age is not a handicap, and the active, intelligent, talented adults should be the spine of any growing nation. Such people are likely to achieve mastery in any field of endeavour.

Creativity and intellectual achievement decline in later life! BUNK! Look at Warren Buffet; never happier, more alert or productive than now, at 82. He is not alone. The world’s present champion kite-flier started flying kites at 56. He is now 86!

The great German statesman Otto von Bismarck did his best work at 79. He died at 83.  The painter Titian did his finest work in his 80s. He died at 99. Laplace, the famous astronomer was still at work when death caught up with him at 78. Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe finished his immortal “Faust” a few years before his death at 83, and William E. Gladstone, British prime minister (1868-1874), took up a new language at 70. Famous painter Grandma Moses, (Anna Mary Robertson Moses) began painting at 70.  Her first work was sold at $5.  In 2006 her painting “Sugary Off” was sold at $1.2 million dollars. She lived to be 101 and painted 25 pictures during her last year. Giuseppe Verdi wrote “Falstaff” at 80, and American multi-millionaire Cornelius Vanderbilt added $100,000 to his fortune in 1882, at age 88.  Stradivari made his first magic violin at 61.

There are hundreds of thousands of examples of men and women living their lives to the fullest until they breathe their last. Why not assess those talents, those men of ability and keep using them to build our future. Age adds character and grace, the young know nothing of.

Many among the young, who achieve success, fall into the black hole of arrogance and over-confidence, which often marks the end of their success.  Adults know better; after many failures, they know they have little time for more mistakes.

Picasso, who died at 92, claimed that “youth was wasted on the young.” Not so! The young are the trustees of posterity, and on their shoulders we lay our future, but let us cherish our adults as long as they  can be productive, perceptive and relevant.  What a waste it would be, if they are ignored.

Remember as long as the mind is always growing, you will always be young! And never forget that the old, old pyramids are our priceless possession!


“Growing old is a bad habit, which a busy man has no time to form”

                             Andre Maurois (1885-1967)

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