Geriatric set still alive and well – and thriving

The premise that getting older means having less to contribute is ridiculous – just look at the entertainment, sports and political worlds

NEW YORK, Dec. 26, 2016/ Troy Media/ – Don’t look now, millennials, but people you probably dismiss as old and ‘past it’ are alive, kicking and leaving their mark. In music, sports or politics, the saying that age is just a number was proven over and over again in 2016.

Did I say kicking? How about positively thriving.

Last week, Jaromir Jagr moved into sole possession of second place on the National Hockey League’s all-time scoring list. That he is still lacing up his skates at 44 – and keeping stride with teammates young enough to be his children – should redefine our outdated view of middle age.

According to Billboard magazine, three of the top five music tours of 2016 belonged to the over-50 crowd.

Bruce Springsteen was one of those top-grossing acts. At 67-years-old, The Boss is still enjoying glory days as he regularly performs for three hours in front of sold-out stadiums. You can’t help but marvel at his sustained cultural presence.

At 58, Madonna may not feel much like a virgin anymore but it hasn’t stopped her from also claiming a top spot. Her ongoing ability to be edgy at an age where she once could have been a cast member of the TV program Golden Girls is nothing short of remarkable.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the Rolling Stones celebrate birthdays with carbon-dating rather than cakes but earlier this month Mick Jagger welcomed his eighth child – a mere 46 years after the birth of his first. At 73 years of age, Jagger still struts across the stage with the kind of surly energy more usually associated with adolescence.

It’s positively inspiring to any of us who are weary of watching television and seeing entire police departments, hospitals and law firms run by people in their late 20s.

The premise that getting older means having less to contribute is ridiculous if you stop for a moment and just think about the current power structure within the United States government.

Donald Trump won the American election at the age of 70. On Jan. 20, he will become the oldest person ever sworn in to a first term in the presidential office. Nancy Pelosi remains the minority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives at the age of 76 and Chuck Schumer, 66, will fill that same role in the Senate. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, is 74.

And let’s not forget that the one man who actually did capture millennials’ fickle hearts this election cycle was none other than the 75-year-old senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders.

Before we point at these ages as a sign that politics is in the hands of the geriatric, let’s instead point at ourselves for our assumption that this is somehow a bad thing and what is needed is an injection of youth – as if that automatically provides a relevance that’s lacking.

Continued relevance is not a function of the calendar, nor is it confined to politics. We equate music with the young and we equate changing social dynamics with new generations supplanting the old. But neither is the case.

One could argue that anyone in their 60s or 70s has gone through more intense social battles than the rest of us could possibly imagine. This is the generation, in America for example, that lived through the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement and was rocking out in a pot-fuelled haze at Woodstock long before any of us were born or out of short pants.

The one true thing about youth is that it doesn’t really respect or comprehend age – its own or anyone else’s. Youth lacks the perspective to understand its own fleeting nature and doesn’t imagine that older people have anything to say or offer.

But 2016 reminded us that those who are ‘old’ are not out of touch or out of steam.

Nor, would it seem, are they out of power.

Troy Media columnist Gavin MacFadyen is a U.S.-based writer and occasional lawyer. Blending insight and wit, he brings a unique perspective to the issues of the day. Gavin is included in Troy Media’s Unlimited Access subscription plan.

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