Relevance in society has no age
A message to seniors
October 1st is National Seniors’ Day, and as such, I look forward to the many tributes that will shine a spotlight on you, the elderly, and the important contributions many of you make to our society. Slowly but surely, I feel that people are beginning to realize just how vital you are in keeping our society properly balanced. As far as I’m concerned, your virtues shouldn’t be appreciated in just a single day each year, but every day… for life!
For a multitude of reasons that I still cannot fully explain, Quebec society is finding it difficult to come to terms with ageing. What else explains this lack of compassion and consideration for more than 20% of the population?
The elections of October 3rd will admittedly address the key issues facing seniors in Quebec. But in addition to this period of reflection and choice, when a winner and their party will ultimately emerge, will serious decisions finally be made to turn the tide so that ageing is no longer perceived negatively?
When you think about it, the assumption that the elderly are no longer useful doesn’t hold water. Just look at the ongoing enthusiasm entertainers like Robert Charlebois and Ginette Reno arouse – in audiences of all ages. And what about the contributions to the economic world made by Bill Gates, Jean Coutu and members of the Desmarais family, to name just a few? Several of whom have also dedicated a significant part of their fortune to the benefit of our world through foundations, as well as philanthropic and social initiatives. It would be disingenuous of us to ignore the valuable contributions made by David Suzuki, Louise Arbour or countless university professors, whose experience and advice still shape the thoughts of those with the arduous task of guiding our world in the heart of a troubled 21st century.
Let’s not make the mistake of believing that the virtues of their initiatives and projects is solely for public adulation. There are examples all around us of seniors quietly leaving an indelible mark on our world, such as creators Arlette Caira, Monique Potvin and Gisèle Poirier, whose art services the causes that affect them. And then there are paragons of devotion and dedication like Sister Angèle and René Pinsonneault, both honoured with the Governor General’s Medal for their volunteer involvement. And last but certainly not least, all the loving and present parents and grandparents numbering in the thousands.
Far be it from me, however, to suggest that seniors have a monopoly on relevance. Let’s remember that it was a very young girl, Greta Thunberg, who had the courage and determination to call out humanity to do better by ensuring its sustainability. Rather than dwell on her young age of 15 years old at the time, society chose to listen to her message – one that couldn’t be more relevant or more revealing.
Above all, society constitutes a large chain – one that must rely on the strength of all of the generations forming its links. My life experience with the elderly over the years has only further reinforced this conviction I have.
I am therefore taking advantage of this symbolic day to go beyond mere recognition. Indeed, I want us to further denounce the inconsiderate words and detrimental actions towards seniors that feeds, without our realizing it, the disparity between the so-called “active” members of society and the “others”. In the election that is upon us, let us together, finally choose a world without ageism. Our future will be that much brighter if we do.