Experience, Opinion

Of young and old and activism

We travelled to L.A. and that distracted me a bit away from blogging. I’m back now and I hope I’ll go back to my old routine as well.

I’m turning 39 in a month. Do I feel my age? Honestly, I don’t know what that is even supposed to mean. To feel my age. I feel young, and I feel like there’s still so much to see and discover. So many new things that I haven’t done yet. 

But I’ve also experienced a lot, and my way of seeing things and taking them in has changed. While youth can bring so much passion, radicalism and conviction to an extreme, my older self has mellowed out a bit. I feel less judgemental, and my temper is not as fiery. I still have a lot of days, where I feel more judgemental and extremely passionate, but I’m aware of me being that way at the same time. It’s like being a toddler who knows they’re doing something they’re not supposed to do. Sometimes you don’t even know why, but then you recognise the pattern.

I’d describe life as a journey. A constant one at that. It’s leading up to my death, but I can’t tell yet whether there’ll be a major wisdom at the end or just the experience of a hopefully content life. There are days, when I think, “If I had to leave now, I’d be not too unhappy.” And then there are days when I’m painfully aware of so many things that I still want to do. Generally, I don’t measure my life against things I want to have done or achieved. When you live in the now, then you are in a position to be happy.

I see things differently. Just because you got something wrong there, you’re not automatically a bad mother. The terms are not anymore, “if you did this one thing which is super bad, then you’ve fucked up forever!” Life consists of an array of colours, as you do. It’s exhausting to jump from black to white and from white to black. Why would you not swim through a sea of blended colours instead? It also allows you to be more forgiving, gentle and understanding with others and with yourself.

Something Elijah Cummings said yesterday at Cohen’s testimony inspired me to think about age vs. youth. He said, “when you get to be my age… I probably would judge it in a different way than a younger person…” And that’s so true! I can see my younger self making harsher and quicker judgements. It seems like you only engage with one way of thinking and absolutely silence the other paths your thought process could take. You’re so outraged about what people may be capable of that you cannot imagine that those people are also capable of doing very different things. Only once you’ve experienced the change that sometimes takes place in people’s lives in your own life, you can start relating to it.

This is why activism is really for everyone. Some people have it in their minds that an activist looks a specific way, but there are so many building sites to be tackled yet. Age don’t matter. And age does matter! We need young people to get involved in politics and we need older people to fight for their rights as well. There are so many preconceptions about people dressing a certain way, about people being a specific age and even about people having a distinctive haircut. Our assumptions are never-ending, but we need to gain more awareness about how we work as humans and correct ourselves, when we’re being disapproving. 

Also, people who are in power and only interested in keeping it that way, will use our weaknesses against us. This is why it’s even more important to be aware of what we tend to do and how we do things. Getting raised and socialised in a specific manner can mean so many things. It can be positive, but it can also mean that we react a certain way. Sometimes, in a manner that harms us and society. My favourite teacher taught me one thing: critical thinking. He used to question all of my thoughts in an encouraging way. At the same time, he encouraged me to question his opinions as well. He taught me, not to take anything as a given and to always examine both sides of a coin, before I form an opinion. It was hard work. But he never failed to encourage me to take it further. I will always be grateful for that, because to this day, this seems to be the most important thing I’ve learned in life. 

I don’t know if wisdom comes with age, but I do know happiness and being content comes with experience. And maybe wisdom just means being more empathetic and more careful about how you approach an issue. We need to have an array of opinions, even allow the ones that we thoroughly disagree with. I am pro-choice, and I struggle with people who are pro-life. I am trying to engage with people with opposite opinions in a calmer and a respectful way. We’re all humans, old and young, and I believe we have more in common than we have differences. And if we can find the common ground, maybe then it’ll be easier to listen to each other and find compromises that allow us to live without big divisions, that seem to run deeper through a lot of countries. Whether it’s Brexit or Bremain. Republican or Democrats. Pro immigration or pro wall.

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