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25.04.2019 Feature Article

Dear Old Folk, You’re Old And We Know; We’re Just Asking For What’s Rightful! -Part 3

Dear old folk,
Anytime I check news portals, listen to news, read people’s opinions, listen to citizens rant, meet fellow citizens, attend social events, and so on I’m dumbfounded by the accidents, crimes, lawlessness, irresponsibility, and a host of unfortunate happenings in the country. I’m stunned because most of you who happen to be our leaders are old enough to foresee most of these and put in place measures to avoid them (or so I thought). I always state that I’ve lived in the country my entire life. I’ve attended the worst and best of schools. I’ve been to the best and worst of places. I’ve lived in the best and worst of neighborhoods. I’ve met the best and worst (not really sure if I’ve met the worst yet) of my country folks.

I can confidently say that there are a lot of good things going on in the country. I can also confidently say that a lot more of the things going on are not right. So it seems that as we get a lot of things right we certainly get a lot more things wrong too. But since we’re typically a gerontocratic society (a society or group governed by old people) it is undoubtedly an abomination to dare declare that “the chief farts” or “the elders are farting around” (this is a direct translation of an Akan sarcasm; my Akan folks, especially Fantes would better relate). It amazes me how you have deliberately decided to be a bad example for the young ones.

Until I read a research that explained how aging is associated with wisdom I had my challenges with the fact that old people are wiser. Older people are usually more proficient than young people in certain dimensions of cognition, particularly those that involve different ways to solve problems, as well as life planning, and making future goals. Now I agree that old people are wiser (at least from my own experience). But I have also come to understand that the choice of what use to put that wisdom is more challenging that the mere attainment of the wisdom. Those deemed as “wise” are considered to have greater empathy, be more correct in their views of others’ emotional status, and be more thoughtful of the well-being of other people.

The research shows that the part of the brain responsible for making good decisions and better judgments (mostly considering big picture) grows with age. Older decision makers make significantly better choices by using their pre-frontal cortex, where more rational, deliberative thinking is controlled, according to Dr. Lawrence R. Samuel in Psychology Today. There’s however no research that shows the wisdom of the old will always be used positively. You would think that wisdom can only be put to positive use; but no, same wisdom can be put to the most lethal use to the disadvantage of those it is intended to help.

And to the young ones. I appreciate that we are being socialized by the old; which means that it is almost impossible to do any better than what they’re teaching us. However, we’re in the age of information. This means that while you allow yourself to be socialized by the old folks in order to learn from their mistakes and tap their wisdom, you are also responsible for carving a niche for yourself and charting your own path that you will be held accountable for. They will die. I mean the old folks. They will pass on and we will be responsible for our actions then. You will not be able to blame your inadequacies on them because your own prefrontal cortex will be grown and should enable you make better decisions. So while you would conveniently lambast the old folks for all they are doing wrong now, remember that you will be in their shoes sooner. And the younger ones following you will similarly have the liberty and effrontery to subject your actions, thoughts, and decisions to the same or even stricter scrutiny you put your fore-generations through.

There are lot of good things in Africa and Ghana to be specific. Why then is the mention of the continent and the country almost always seen in the negative light? It’s simple. Because we have decided to do a lot of wrong and inappropriate things without any regard for consequences. We have determined to almost always go for instant gratification against delaying gratification for the greatest good. We have been resolute to always shift blame and not be responsible for anything. We have chosen to be continually dependent on the very people who are the cause of our woes and continue to be a pain in our neck.

We have proven to be subhuman by proving to the rest of the world that indeed possession does not imply ownership. With all the resources nature has endowed us with we have shown that even though we have brains that are the same (at least physiologically and perhaps functionally) as other people it cannot work like theirs. Our brains have resolved to prioritize trivialities and mundane, humdrum existence over realizing our full potentials that should be our birthright anyway. We have justified our stupidity and indolence with cultural heritage and religion and proven to be more religious or even the original custodians of heaven than where those religions originated from. What we have decided to be is to self-impose backwardness and suffering and eventually turn around to ask one another how we got here.

It is very unfortunate that the old folks are obliviously glued to and haven’t started realizing the shackles of colonialism, perhaps. The young ones, having realized the better alternatives, are restrained to be patient and meticulously follow the wise counsel of the old that will eventually deliver them to ‘The Promised Land’ which is actually the land they are tactlessly selling out. We are sick and tired. Yes. But until we become sick and tired of being sick and tired, we still have a long way to go. Indeed it is a tall order. But others have done it and so can we. It’s a long shot but worth the try. How would we know the outcome if we don’t shoot?

And oh, we know that when we rant you’ll go for your favourite buzzwords - disrespectful, know it all, self-righteous, what have you. But before you go for any of them, please act your age. That’s not too much to ask of you as a citizen!

By: Mustapha Bin Usman
The author is a writer, entrepreneurship expert, business and life coach, entrepreneur, farmer, trainer, and teacher. You may contact him via email: [email protected] or on Mobile/ WhatsApp: +233 246 134 798 or visit his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/theusmanconsulting/

Mustapha Bin Usman
Mustapha Bin Usman, © 2019

This author has authored 9 publications on Modern Ghana.
Author column: MustaphaBinUsman

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