Respect the elderly
BUSINESS MATTERS (BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE) - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - August 1, 2020 - 12:00am

During the PRE-COVID days, economists in some regions of the world worry about declining birth rates and aging population. You can credit this to the fast pace of life for declining birth rates and better nutrition, medical breakthroughs, exercise, and healthy living for aging.

One of the most exciting future predictions came from futurist Peter Diamandis. Diamandis is a Greek-American engineer, physician, and entrepreneur best known for being the founder and chairman of the X Prize Foundation. I have read his books and attended a talk he gave in New York in a business leadership conference some years ago. The book that launched him to fame is entitled: “Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think.”

One of the concepts that excite the readers deal with his presentation of David Gobel and popularized by Ray Kurzweil and Aubrey de Grey. Their fearless futuristic prediction is called: “Longevity escape velocity,” or actuarial escape velocity.

According to this concept, an indefinite lifespan can be achieved when medical and technological improvements add years to lifespan faster than the passage of time. In simple terms, humanity continues to discover new ways of extending life at a pace that doesn’t allow death to catch up. In layman’s terms, senior citizens will live longer, and life longevity will extend beyond human imagination.

“We are nearing ‘longevity escape velocity’ — where science can extend your life for more than a year for every year you are alive,” says the title of one article hailing the concept. Ray Kurzweil claims it will happen by 2022. Scientists believe genetic engineering, or the discovery of anti-aging drugs, could  extend human life far beyond its natural course. The same Aubrey de Grey thinks there is no reason humans cannot live for at least 1,000 years.

But then COVID-19 happens. As a person gets older, the risk for severe illness from COVID-19 increases. Many health experts have explained it in many news programs that people in their 50s are at higher risk for severe illness than people in their 40s. Similarly, people in their 60s or 70s are, in general, at higher risk for severe illness than people in their 50s. The highest risk for severe illness from COVID-19 is among those aged 85 or older. Other factors can increase the risk of severe illness, for instance, having underlying medical conditions.

Why do I have this funny feeling that the virus will take lives, and a significant chunk of them would belong to the older generation as is now reflected in the numbers of casualties presented in the news daily? It is as if Generation Z will grow up to a world with a relatively smaller aging population.

Today when I see a lot of young people speak, react, and treat their parents or older people, I wince. There is so much disrespect and too much of an “obnoxious attitude” there. Helmut Schmidt says: “I remembered the youth movement in 1968. It started on American university campuses as a protest against the Vietnam war, then came to Paris, Frankfurt and Berlin. Within a year, you had an uprising of youth against their elders.” This is not a good thing.

I guess I behaved the same way when I was young, dumb, and foolish, thinking that I knew it all and that older people are just irrelevant and obsolete. And now thinking back, yes, I was young, dumb, and stupid to have behaved that way. But it was then when there was no COVID-19 around taking the lives of the elderly. This Virus has reminded us that life is short and fickle. And that we need to value love, respect, compassion, and care for each other.

To the young, love your parents and respect your elders. Sometimes kids are growing up so fast they have forgotten the fact that their parents are growing old faster. And you never know how much time you have left to be with them. Scriptures even remind us with this warning: Never speak harshly to an older man, but appeal to him respectfully as you would to your father. (Timothy 5:1-3).

And here is the most practical reason why the young should respect and admire their elders.

They made it through school without “cut-copy-paste,” Google or Wikipedia.

(Connect with Francis Kong at Or listen to “Business Matters” Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. over 98.7 DZFE-FM’ The Master’s Touch’, the classical music station.)

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