Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Wisdom of ages

Here it is, the middle of January, and the overnight temperature dropped to a few degrees above zero.

Plenty of family time this past weekend, like the weekend before. We live less than a hundred metres from the beach so in Summer, peeps come for the sun. More rellos are popping up this weekend too.

Plus I've been busily editing... it's all go...

But, I've been watching a program called Elders. The introduction says it all:

"We live in a society that worships youth. On television, in magazines, in advertisements and on billboards, what sells and what is sold to us is youth. But in some cultures it is the elders of the community who are valued and whose wisdom is sought. In this series we are going to seek out six prominent elders of our tribe, each over the age of 65 to see what life has taught them. Welcome to the elders."

We've heard from Alan Alda, Sir David Attenborough and Bob Hawke (didn't watch that one - I don't like him at all).

Last night, Andrew Denton spoke with the incomparable Helen Thomas. What a fascinating woman.

A lot of people outside of the U.S. probably don't know who she is, but would probably remember the old lady, hunched over, in the front row of White House Press Briefings, grilling whoever is at the podium.

It's sometimes magical to watch. Helen will ask the same question, in ten different ways; and be given the same answer... in ten different ways. What is astonishing is the respect and accord given to Ms Thomas. I've never heard a speaker treat her with impatience or condescension - even as some commentators do.

At age 89, she's still working, still as wily as a fox and still asking the awkward questions. Ms Thomas is a journalists journalist - and age has not wearied her. What she says in the interview is sometimes pointed:

ANDREW DENTON: The old saying that that power corrupts absolute power corrupts absolutely. Do you believe that’s true?

HELEN THOMAS: Yeah. I think it can. I’ve seen people men go into the Oval Office with some trepidation. In a couple of days they think they’re President and they think that’s all powerful and people worship at their shrine and every wish is a command, no yeah I think very corrupting.

ANDREW DENTON: Who have you seen most changed by that office?

HELEN THOMAS: This man. I think he thinks he’s President and he’s led us into a very b-big quagmire morass.

It was an excellent interview and I wanted to hear more. Half an hour isn't nearly long enough to listen to all the fascinating things that happen in our eminent seniors' lives. Maybe if more young people paid attention to the older generations, things would be much more happier, if not livelier.

So next week, we get to hear from Dame Elisabeth Murdoch. Rupie's mum. He's 78; Elisabeth is 100. Should be interesting.

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