- Are we missing out as a society on something important when we discount a whole group of people?
- Let’s consider those people who do not accept aging as an impediment.
Ageism is the discrimination of a group of people based exclusively on age.
Dr Kay Patterson of The Australian Human Rights Commission has found most Australians (90%) agree ageism exists in Australia, with 83% agreeing ageism is a problem and 65% saying it affects people of all ages.
“Ageism is arguably the least understood form of discriminatory prejudice, with evidence suggesting it is more pervasive and socially accepted than sexism or racism,” Dr Patterson said.
Are we missing out as a society on something important when we discount a whole group of people? We are learning these truths more and more with sexism and racism but not, it seems, with ageism. Why is this the case? Does this mindset need to change? We are after all an aging society. Let’s consider some contemporary ageless wonders. The following are drawn from one broad domain only (TV/film world). But because they are public figures, their life stories are relatively well-known and, one hopes, would have some power to combat ageism as a result. Those people who seem to almost get better with age and continue to amaze us with their energy, their creativity, and their perseverance. Let's consider those people who do not accept aging as an impediment.
Norman Lear was born on July 27, 1922. He is 101 years old and still producing television series. His accomplishments are truly mind boggling. However, even more mind blowing is that at 101 years of age he is still in demand and doing quality work.
He is best known for all his TV series that were successful, not for a season, but for decades. They include: All in the Family, Maude, Sanford and Son, One Day at a Time, The Jeffersons, Good Times, and the Netflix revival of Good Times in 2022, one hundred years after his birth. Age does not seem to be an issue where Norman Lear is concerned.
We know that Jane Fonda, the daughter of famous actor Henry Fonda, has a long and successful career as an actress, but she has also been an activist for social change for decades and a writer and exercise guru to millions. She won two Academy Awards for her acting. However, at the age of 85, Jane is still out there in film and even more as an activist.
No one can say Jane Fonda has even slowed down. Her health problems have sidelined her at times but she won’t be denied. She is just another ageless wonder.
Having appeared in 60 films over a career of 65 years, Clint Eastwood at 93 years of age is another ageless wonder. Eastwood is currently producing Juror #2.
Eastwood represents another Hollywood personality that does not give in to aging. In 2021, he produced, directed and acted, at 91, in the movie Cry Macho. He is another ageless wonder.
We know him as the British broadcaster, biologist, natural historian and author who has been producing the most comprehensive survey of animal and plant life on earth. Sir David Attenborough, at 97 years of age, is still actively trying to do his best to save the planet and all that lives and thrives here. He is energetic, committed, and totally capable in presenting his documentary series. Age is not a factor to Sir David. He is an ageless wonder.
What makes these ageless wonders tick? Is it talent? Is it intelligence? Or, could it be motivational intelligence?
Obviously, one has to be genetically fortunate to be an ageless wonder. Being and staying healthy is a prerequisite of any form of longevity. Cognitive and emotional intelligence are also important. However, it is our motivational intelligence that does the doing.
Our motivational intelligence is our engine that provides our movement. Whether you believe thoughts precede feelings or feelings precede thoughts, we know that action is the bottom line. Motivation is our movement and our action. Without our motivation there is no movement.
What is different about our ageless wonders? How are they wired compared to the rest of us? They take action. Their motivational intelligence is fine tuned. They seek and find new stimulation and new passions. They are not deterred by what others think they can or cannot do. They decide what they want to do and they do it.
They are not feeling finished when they finish a project. They are looking ahead to the next one. They do not adhere to the adage of ageism. Age does not impede their progression forward.
Age is not utilized as an excuse. They probably don’t think about age all that much. What an advantage that could be, to really believe you are ageless. What a wonder that would be.
Patterson, K. (2021). New research finds ageism is the most accepted form of prejudice in Australia. Australian Human Rights Commission, 14 September, 2021.