Ours is a society where respect for seniors is encouraged… except by Jagdeo
January 19 2020
Come Thursday, Bharrat Jagdeo will attain the ripe age of 55 and become part of the group he considers “fossilised.” Had he continued employment in the Public Service, where he was hired during the Desmond Hoyte administration, he would have been retiring under its Rules and starting to receive pension from the Ministry of Finance.
For years, he who has trafficked in ageism, time has caught up with.
The United Nations (UN) defines ageism as “the stereotyping of, and discrimination against, people based on old age.” According to this body, “these prejudices devalue older persons depicting them as frail, non-contributors and a burden to society.” It is said, ‘do suh nah like suh,’ and during this new phase in his life, it should come as no surprise to him when similar abuse and cruelty are meted out to him.
We have borne witness to Janet Jagan being publicly insulted for daring to disagree with his administration’s withdrawal of advertisements from Stabroek News. The sexagenarian Donald Ramotar was forced out of the party’s leadership after the last elections.
One can safely surmise he (Jagdeo) probably feels Cheddi Jagan and Janet Jagan, who were elected President at age 74 and 77 respectively, at that age should have never been given the privilege to serve. As recent as Nomination Day there was another display of unbecoming conduct.
In offering a comment about the PPP’s List of Candidates, of which he is the Representative, he said, “On our top-up list, it is a lot of new faces, young, bright people who can lead….This fossilised old bunch cannot do anything for young people” (SN 11th Jan 2020 – Vieira, Indar, Datadin turn out for PPP/C – Jagdeo is list representative).
Though a clear reference to the composition of the List by the party’s main rival, it constitutes open contempt for some of the PPP candidates.
Mark Phillips is approaching 60, Gail Teixeira is almost 70 and Tony Vieira is in his 70s. It would be folly on the part of any to think the named were exempted from the targeted insult by one who is soon to become part of the very group, not by his own volition, but the grace of God.
The opportunity is taken nonetheless to advise those persons the World Health Organisation (WHO) warns “ageism has harmful effects on the health of older adults.”
As an aside, it was during the 2015 campaign he preached an apocalyptic message of Guyana’s future should former workers of the Disciplined Services be elected to political office. We were told law and order would be trampled. Chaos, lawlessness and barbarism were supposed to have reigned.
And such is the backdrop Mark campaigns on as a former military worker. His would be the task to allay the manufactured fear and cleanse the shame cast on his profession lest he suffers rejection from the very people he is offering to lead, but who were socialised to fear and despise his kind.
Woe be unto this nation if we become de-sensitised to this man’s mistreatment of seniors. As a political leader, he plays a powerful role in impacting human relations, laws, policies and programmes, and could influence/support the respect for or transgressing of rights. The UN cautions ageism “shape[s] how older persons are perceived and treated by their societies, and greatly hinders their social, economic and political inclusion and the enjoyment of their human rights.”
Ours is a society with a proud tradition where respect for seniors is encouraged, and those who disrespect and violate them frowned upon. Seen as valued members, having meaningfully contributed and passed the baton on or still actively participating, this demographic is recognised for possessing the wisdom that comes with experience and their contributions to the family unit and wider society.
These cherished norms he seems determine to trample and whittle away, for he is communicating to the younger generation, including those on the PPP’s List, that it is okay to disrespect their parents, teachers, elders and authority.
And lest we forget, the WHO warns “…ageism serves a social and economic purpose: to legitimise and sustain inequalities between groups.” The body says this could take many forms, “including prejudicial attitudes, discriminatory practices, or institutional policies and practices that perpetuate stereotypical beliefs.”
It presents no comfort that Jagdeo, who once held the nation’s highest office, remains un-perturbed using his public platform to promote division and disrespect amongst us. He must be stopped.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper)