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Sunday, March 13, 2016

To be older and wiser

"Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it." (George Orwell).

"Women are wiser than men because they know less but understand more." (James Thurber)

The belief that wisdom only comes with age has stood the test of time, and generally has been taken to mean that older people always know more than young one people. I think the time has come to revisit this generalization. The world has changed and turned upside down in so many ways that nothing lasts forever anymore.

I read somewhere that a broad definition of wisdom is that it consists of cognition, reflection and compassion that allows us to maintain a sense of positive well being and kindness in the face of challenges. This can come through the process of growing old and experience. If we accept that we learn something new everyday, it follows that our wealth of knowledge is increased.

However, with the advent of living with computers, which were devised and created by people who were then young, even younger people have made the digital age their own which leaves us more mature adults struggling to keep up with developments.

I hate to put myself forward as a prime example, but there was a time in my life when I lived on the cutting edge. However, I might as well have gone to sleep for a hundred years because I woke up one day to find that everything had changed. I was living on a small island when it was suggested that I look into becoming involved in computer programming. Why? We didn't use computers in the country where I lived. 
Can you imagine that?

Then came mobile phones. Did I want a mobile phone so that I could always be contactable? Hell no!
Now I have two phones and I almost never leave home without them. But, neither one is yet a smartphone because I really don't need the amazing power that they represent. That is the case as it stands today. Tomorrow that will change and I will become an addict.

Older people are wiser, but not necessarily wiser than any other person than they, themselves  were, as individuals the day before. It can not be generally said that old people are wiser than young people. In fact, the world is changing so much and so fast that in many ways we are going the other way in the application of our wisdom. That is why senior citizens are such soft targets for conmen. The stories of older and very wise men who marry very young women who could be their grandchildren are legend. Where's the wisdom in that?

I encourage my fellow seniors to keep an open mind and to continue to learn something new. Be curious and let yourselves grow with a fast moving world, and if it makes sense try something new from time to time. That's the definition of living. If you stand absolutely still and close off your mind, only one thing happens next.

It's called: The End.

Copyright (c) 2016
Eugene Carmichael

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