I have come to see the moral clarity and conviction of young people and the wisdom and pragmatism of the old not as adversarial forces but as two elements in a dynamic system that need to be designed for as parts of a whole.
Here are two reactions to Frank Bruni’s column In Defense of the Gerontocracy: Maybe older is better. Just look at Nancy Pelosi, about US Senator Dianne Feinstein [age 85] apparently scolding of a group of young constituents who pressed her for action on the Green New Deal. The two comments below, from Micah and Paul B., are not directly responding to each other’s posts, but the effect is the same.
From Micah in NYC,
From Paul B. in New Jersey,
While I do see these two views as connected parts of a whole I will place my bets with Micah — with the the young and the young at heart. At this moment in history, with the ticking bomb of climate change, there is simply not enough time to rely on the slow, wise processes of the past.
In the article If Americans Can Find North Korea on a Map, They’re More Likely to Prefer Diplomacy (New York Times, 5 July 2017) Kevin Quealy unpacks several studies that show that when people know more about the geographic location of geopolitical hotspots — when they know where North Korea and the Ukraine are, for example — they tend to favor diplomacy over military engagement.
The people who had the most geographical knowledge were, by-and-large, highly educated, but the next most knowledgeable group was…older people.
“Nearly half of respondents 65 and older found North Korea. The Korean War, which ended in 1953, may be in the memory of today’s older seniors,” wrote Quealy.
From these studies it might be fair to conclude that the lived experience of older people may give them quantifiably different starting points for decision making than the young — which seems uncontroversial when I put it that way, but given Americans’ general state of ignorance regarding geography and history I would want more people in the proverbial “room where decisions are made” who had a living, working knowledge of where things are and what happened there in the past, than not.