Sometimes when you are right in the middle of it, it can be difficult to really appreciate the shifting tectonic plates of large social transformation taking place around us. Things like the polarisation of politics, the rise of social justice, LBGTQI+ rights and #MeToo have been the eruption points (to stick with the moving ground metaphor), but there is also more of a subtle yet equally as profound shift that has pervaded almost every aspect of life and will set the foundation for generations to come.
I’m no philosopher, so it’s hard for me to pinpoint it and give it a name, but I think it’s here in this very magazine. Probably the clearest way to see it is to compare the articles from today with ten or 15 years ago. Maybe try the same with any medium, in fact. It was interesting how many people found watching reruns of Friends, for instance, within today’s context very jarring. It’s kind of hard to imagine these days finding humour out of homophobia and semi hidden racism. Some people might bemoan the fact that it’s all gone too far and that the “Woke Police” are stealing our entertainment. But I think that generally most of us have grown up and accepted the fact that we all have a right to feel included, valued and safe regardless of all of the variables that make us individually who we are.
There is still one “ism” that I think we still have a long way to go with though and that is ageism. In some cultures around the world, the wisdom and experience from the oldest members of society are cherished, valued and incorporated into daily life. I really don’t feel that is the way here. It also drives me nuts that someone can hold themselves up as a bastion of social justice while using the term “Ok Boomer” in a pejorative way. Has there been some committee deciding a human use by date here? If there is, it might need to be revised as we are living longer.
Ageing experts like Greg Macpherson, whom we talk to in this issue, have been making profound progress in our universal quest for longer life and there are some who say that a common lifespan of 120 years is not so far away. I hope that as a society, we can start to grow up a little more when it comes to the value of age because I am not looking forward to spending half of my life as an outcast.