Thousands and thousands of veterans stood silently by Cenotaphs around the country last weekend. Men and women who’d lost friends and family – those who gave ‘their todays so we could have our tomorrows’.
As a rule, Bel Mooney writes a soothing national newspaper column, responding to readers’ letters on a whole range of life issues, from difficult relationships to feelings of inadequacy and low self worth, with compassion and encouragement. But this week she was hopping mad. She was well and truly offended and felt like a ‘gangster’s moll with a six-shooter in her stocking.’
Her eruption was triggered by a young woman on a TV show who argued that people over 70 shouldn’t be able to vote. Indeed, a recent survey showed that 47% of those aged 16 – 34 are in favour of banning over-70s from voting. In the EU referendum many older people chose to vote Leave, to the ire of those who wanted to remain. So did many younger people, but I suppose that’s OK because they are allowed to have an opinion. It’s the older people that’s the problem; nothing to do with their having longer memories and wanting the best for their grandchildren and others.
‘These people are talking about me,’ wrote Ms Mooney, ‘and many of you. And Helen Mirren and Keith Richards.’
And I could add David, the 97 year old in a care home in south Wales who gently evangelises the others and sends a regular newsletter with prayer requests for them; the 98-year-old who has had to stop knitting children’s garments for charity because of her arthritis, and the 92 year old with a prayer ministry for younger people in her church – there are so many others.
Including the Veterans who stood silently by the Cenotaphs.
Clearly, some younger ones need to grow up. Note, some… many in this generation have more wholesome mindsets and better judgement. But those who think like this need to know that, singularly, their ageism in likely to be just as poisonous to them. Study after study shows that how you view old age affects how you will become in your later years. Age UK says that a million older people are lonely and unhappy because they believe their lives are worthless and nobody wants to know them, because they have absorbed decades of ageism.