Yesterday, while some of the great minds of our times focused on The Feminine Mystique on The Halli Casser-Jayne Show, Talk Radio for Fine Minds an upstart young male reporter by the name of Luke Russert dared to confront Nancy Pelosi in her bid to remain house minority leader with a simply asinine question: Whether she was too old to lead, whether the leadership should give itself up for more junior members.
Russert: “You’re just going to stay on prohibits the party from having a younger leadership, hurts the party in the long run. What’s your response?”
The other Congressional women standing with Pelosi booed and cried, “Discrimination!” while Pelosi just brushed him off by yelling “Next!” before adding her own barb.
Pelosi: “You always ask that question except to Mitch McConnell.”
Russert didn’t back down, insisting that his question applied to the male Congressional representatives who are over 70 as well, and Pelosi launched into a (well-deserved) tirade, beginning with “Let’s for a moment honor that as a legitimate question, although it’s quite offensive, although you don’t realize that.”
Pelosi handled the obnoxious ageist and sexist question with aplomb in noting that Russert had not asked that question of male leaders. Then she calmly explained — not just to the reporter, but to all those who may not understand — that often, women don’t accrue the necessary seniority for traditional advancement because they are penalized when they decide to spend time raising their families.
So true, so true.
But there is more here, and it applies to male seniors every bit as much as females, something the world used to know but in the last fifty years seems to have forgotten: Wisdom is the gift of age. Age is not a disease, but a gift. We have more to contribute to society as we age, not less!
In our current youth-centric culture, we are considered old before we are fifty and useless after forty, in a time when we might live to the ripe age of one hundred.
It’s time that we all explored our culture’s disrespect for age and the truth that having lived a longer life, indeed, brings WISDOM not obsolescence.
What the hell is going on here? How is it that a life well-lived, according to the current laws of American culture makes a person over forty obsolete, a truth that is more a problem for women than for men?
Economics surely plays a role — and bad economics at that. Because what might have been true for a short period of time: that discretionary income rested in the hands of 18-24 year olds is no longer true. Today’s youth, even those with college degrees are having a difficult time finding employment. The fact that the young had money to spare, often thanks to their generous parents, led to our youth-centric culture. That is not the way things stand today.
The good news here, as a measure of bad economics defining our culture, is meted out by a change seen in network programming and the advertising industry. Once the focus of television advertisers, the youth culture is’t necessarily an advertiser’s target audience. Long overlooked by network TV, boomers are getting more prime-time respect. Five years ago, advertisers on national networks paid $45 for each 1,000 viewers, age 50-plus watching at prime time, says media research firm SQAD. This year the figure is headed for $52 as advertisers and networks increasingly compete for older viewers. One winner is CBS: its shows NCIS, 60 Minutes and Blue Bloods draw three of the five largest audiences age 55 and over. Since money rules in the American culture, Boomers own the power these days, if not the respect of youth.
We complain about the demise of family life. Where once generations of families lived together and were ruled by their matriarchs and patriarchs this is no longer true. Families are scattered, as well as fractured in our divorce-centric culture. How well do our children know their grandparents? What influence can the wise have on the nubile when their interaction is an occasional Skype conversation from thousands of miles away?
All of this fuel for thought for Luke Russert and his generation.
Yes, Luke, it’s time we all took a look at the ways of our youth culture, and soon, because NONE OF US is getting any younger.