Who is valued most in society – old or young? (Short version)
In some countries old age is highly valued, while in others youth is emphasized. Which viewpoint do you agree with?
Many people have a simplistic view of attitudes toward age. They suggest that in Western societies old people are not respected, while in Asian societies elders are revered. Similarly, youth is either highly valued or ignored, depending on the culture. In this essay I will show that some of these views are mistaken.
First of all, old age is valued everywhere. It’s true that in the Far East, people respect grandparents, older leaders, and bosses. However, if we look at Western countries, we also find politicians in their sixties or seventies, despite free elections, and company executives in their sixties, despite strong business competition. In addition, as life expectancy increases, older people are becoming more important as consumers and voters. Finally, even in countries where elders previously could not be challenged, people are realizing that old age does not always mean wisdom. The old way of running families, companies, or countries may not work today.
We see many images of young people on our screens, but does this mean they are valued more? In fact, these images are just marketing: parents spend money on children, and older people spend less on mobile phones or beauty products. Just because shampoo ads portray young women does not mean that young women run companies or countries. There are very few young politicians or company bosses anywhere in the world, apart from exceptions like Bill Clinton or Mark Zuckerberg.
The reality is that although society seems obsessed with youth, older people still have power and wealth. They are the ones who make money and decisions. We must be careful not to confuse images with reality.
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You can find a longer version of this essay here.