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Is ‘Age’ An Achievement?

Dr Navniit Gandhi Wednesday, June 5, 2024
Is ‘Age’ An Achievement?

“Wisdom does not automatically come with old age. Nothing does--except wrinkles. It’s true that some wines improve with age. But only if the grapes were good in the first place”.

-Abigail Van Buren

Obedience is one virtue we love immensely if others have it for us. We feel reassured and happy if we are heard; are obeyed and everything happens as we desire.

This desire assumes huge proportions as we age…

We instruct our children to hold age and obedience in direct proportion. The more senior one is, the more he or she has to be revered. Yes, this insistence on respecting our elders transcends religion, region, and language.

Let us take a few moments and think: should respect and reverence be based on Age?

Yes, those who have lived more, have greater experiences to boast of. However, haven’t we seen or met those elderly folks on whom age and experiences have cast just no positive shade whatsoever? If they were selfish, obstinate or unkind when young, they continue to be so even with advancing age. In fact, some seem to be even more so. All of us have known a few elders who do tell lies; play political games or are selfish. All seniors may not have been sensitized with experiences; may not be able to love unconditionally or be graceful. Are there no angry, grumpy, foolish and stubborn senior

On the other hand, there are countless children who possess remarkable traits! There are children who learn to sacrifice their own desires at a young age, when they see their parents unable to comfortably make ends meet. There are children who are innocent; are brave; are generous and sensitive too. Do children not work hard at home or help in chores? There are millions of families wherein kids start earning before they turn even 15 years of age because they ‘care’ to pitch in.

However, our ego assumes gigantic proportions as we age, and stubbornness and pride seep in. We think we know it all and our commands must be adhered to. The most significant question we need to think on, is: what is our role or effort in we getting old? Is it an exclusive occurrence which happens with some of us who do something credible in life?


Time moves swiftly for us all. Getting old is not an achievement of ours or an outcome of our efforts. And yet we begin to demand respect for something we have had no role to play in.

While teaching the young to respect the elderly is a fine principle, this lesson too, like many others, which we attempt enforcing on our kids has shades of grey.

One, we do not let our kids choose the qualities and traits on the basis of which they themselves can decide as to who ought to be respected. Enforcing respect on the basis of age, gender or other social norms, creates a fertile ground for resentment to simmer eventually. If we wish to enforce respectful behavior towards parents and grand-parents, introduce the kids to the admirable qualities and traits of the senior folks for which they ought to be treated with reverence.

Second, because of this belief that seniors ought to be respected, we forget to respect our kids and teenagers, no matter how pure their hearts are or how sensible and full-of-care they are. Because they are young, the qualities in them stand sidelined and good conduct, brushed aside. Worse, this belief that the ‘seniors’ have to be respected, is very selfishly applied. This belief does not extend to every old man or woman such as an old watchman or bus driver; an old beggar or an old vegetable vendor or elderly servants!

Thirdly, children are pressurized into not saying a word or questioning even when the old folks at home are stingy or rude or insensitive. Hence, most of our kids grow up practically forcing themselves to keep their mouth shut, in a bid to show their reverence for their elders. Their heads might remain bowed, but genuine regard and love in their hearts for their elders may be doubtful. Can healthy bonds be thus built in a family?

Fourthly, as our own hair greys and skin sags, our egos bloat owing to the same expectations. We think we automatically qualify for respect in the family and a preferential treatment by the world whereas, inside us, we are just the same mixed bags as we were in our 20s and 30s.

We think (and children too imbibe this) that there is no need to become better or kinder or to care more so as to be treated better. We simply start expecting a respectful treatment as a matter of right and get agitated if we don’t get it!!!

Aging is not an achievement which we can boast as ‘ours’. Days and nights just whiz past for us all. In fact, given a chance, we all would have held time still and not allowed old age to dawn on us.

The point is, let us treat everyone as decently as we can. Age is not an achievement which we should be boasting of and in return, demanding respect for. If only we can teach our children to try and see the ‘good’ in all; to choose who they wish to truly respect and for which qualities; to be transparent in feeling and expressing emotions and yet be calm and poised while doing so---millions of hearts will be lighter and pure.

Growing old is inevitable; Growing Up is an achievement!

Navniit Gandhi is an academic since 25+ years; a feature writer (300+ articles), and has authored 10 books. Her 10th and most recently authored, published and launched book is titled: NOT MUCH IS AS IT SEEMS Her write-ups can be read at For details about her books, visit
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Express your comment on this article

Sumathi Ravindran
Friday, June 7, 2024
Fantastic article Mam
Thanks for sharing your great view.
Very honest and practical Article.
Thanks to IIK for sharing

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