Today, someone asked me to tell them how old I think I am. It was in an argument about whether we should use age as a classifier for a shared or common interest. Her view is that actual age in years from birth is only used to reinforce prejudice and that what she refers to as true age can only be determined by a number of factors, including health conditions. I think, in a roundabout way, she has fully embraced the old saying about being as old as you feel.
Well anyway, here's the answer I gave her.... In my head I feel as though I'm still very young with a huge amount about people and this beautiful planet still to learn. However, also in my head, I also recognise just how much about people I have learned, how deep my respect runs for the individualism of every person, every culture, and every creed - or no creed. I still laugh at toilet humour as I did when I was a child, but I'm also very proud of the fact that I have a child of my own who is growing into a deeply thoughtful, caring young man. Instead of fearing the way each second ticks by, bringing me closer to the parting of ways, I embrace every birthday knowing that the previous year has taught me so very much, and brought me so much joy and pain, laughter and tears, because I am still alive to watch the clouds.
My body is a different matter. The mantra of my doctors since I was 22 has been "but you're too young... oh" as they've read test results. At 42, I was told I had the hips of an 80 year old. "OK, well she can have them back any time" was my reply. Nevertheless, whatever my body or mind may think, I am 51 1/2 years old because a year is 365 days long and I have lived through 51 years and 6 months exactly today :-)
And then I asked the mods to close the thread because it was so far off topic.
I don't think age should only be defined as a way of segregating people, although sometimes doing so can be beneficial if that's what the individual wants. However discrimination and prejudice prosper not because we define other people in ways in which we differ, physically or in any other way. They exist and are fed because people in our society have, for centuries, delineated each other by determining that some of these inherent, beautiful differences are less attractive, less powerful, or at the most basic level, less human than others. I don't think I need to elucidate on that. The shame is that so long after one man persuaded his country that one entire such classification of human beings needed to be wiped out in its entirety, we are still doing it.
Maybe it's some amygdalean danger trigger that makes us see the difference before we see the similarities. Maybe that's why racism, genderism, ageism, religionism are so easily fanned into the flames of hatred. Maybe we all need to just train our responses a little better so that our immediate response to difference isn't fear, but acceptance that humanity comes in all shapes, sizes, colours, beliefs, and ages.