Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Elders Need Not be a Burden

An article in the Peace Weekly by one of the reporters reminds the readers that the senior members of our society are not a burden but give strength and goes ahead to give examples.

A month ago a member of a public agency asked who will become the new Korean amateur singing contest host after the present one leaves. Since the board of directors was changed many thought there would be change. Some names were considered but at the end, they decided to continue with the man who has been the host for 38 years.

Mr. Song was born in 1927, is 91 years old and most of his contemporaries have either died or are in nursing homes. In Korea, they say even mountains and rivers change in ten years during his time they have changed four times. He still continues singing and dancing with the young people all over the country.

Professor Kim was born in 1920 and is now 98 years old and still active as an honorary professor at Yonsei University in the philosophy department. In a recent interview, he said that he gave 165 lectures in 2017. It is not easy for a young man to lecture this often but the professor who is close to a hundred still travels around the country giving lectures almost every two days. He continues to write and publish his books and has an extraordinary memory.

This is not of course only true of Korea. Just last month at 92 Mahathir in Malaysia was elected the world's oldest sitting head of government. Even more surprising is the drive and determination of Prime Minister Mahathir. Not long ago he said he would review the East Coast Railway project which was part of China's silk road business. He intends to prevent the Chinese influence from growing excessively.

These three men are all over 90 years old, an entertainer, a professor, and politician. All three men are not living in the past but the present and looking forward to the future. Those who are in their eighties who exercise and those who don't we see a big difference says Professor Kim, who is famous for telling those in their sixties to exercise.

In Korea, the number of elders keeps on increasing and poverty is a problem with many of the elderly. Confucianism still remains a strong influence and respect for the elderly is a strong value in society, however, they are often put on a pedestal, respected but want them to stay there. Young people feel more so than in the past that the elders are taking their jobs and they will be responsible for their health care and pensions. 

A society where seniors would not be a burden but strength is something to be strongly desired. When we see the vitality and exuberance of both the young and old that should give us joy and when the ways of the world seem to fan the negativity and frustrations of life we should be embarrassed.

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