The right to happiness

In a society with 600 million elderly people, with signs reaching the 2.000 mark within the next 50 years, it’s essential to reflect upon their living conditions. Especially about their quality of life because one thing is to grow old and a different one to grow up and to gain maturity. Inside any old person there is a youngster who asks himself with amazement what has happened, how life escaped from his hands without the conscience of having lived it plainly.

That is the experience of those who frequent elderly people living alone and not so much the ones who interact with their families and feel like they are still loved and necessary. That imposed feeling of loneliness, of seeing life linger through a new breakdown, a difficulty, a loss of elasticity and of autonomy that progressively deteriorates quality of life and converts those who could be sources of experience and wisdom into beings who procure to remain unnoticed until they become almost invisible for the rest of society and even for their family. They don’t want to disturb and they move aside, they try to give others a hand but they mistrust the clumsiness of their fingers, the weakness of their hands and they fear spilling the water. That’s why they look after the children that love them and with whom they play and both find themselves happy because don’t judge each other , nor they demand anything from each other nor they measure each other, they only laugh with a complicity established in the heart and in tenderness. If you want to annihilate an old man, separate him from children.

This takes place because we have permitted the imposition of the clumsy concept that only the young is beautiful and worthy because they say it is productive. Abdicating from a world with values without which living lacks sense, they act as if everything was driven by materialistic concept of productivity, profit, benefit. Even if life didn’t make sense, it must make sense to live here and now, alone and in accompanied.

We have been deceived into the idea that what costs more is worth more. Thus we have assumed with the greatest naturalness to be educated to become “useful people”, “to get a good job”, “to obtain diplomas and training that allow us to enter the labor market”. We have even allowed to be considered human resources, good enough to be exploited!

Nobody tells youngsters and children that the main object of education is to help them to be happy, to be themselves in order to face the changing circumstances of existence. We teach them to live for work, instead of teaching them to work to be able to live with dignity, happiness and harmony. We incessantly instill that we live to have stuff, instead of living for being ourselves in the presence of others. That is why we try to bend them since their childhood, through threats and fear so that they obey, so that they don’t ask for them to remain silent and remain repressed instead of helping them to let bloom their enormous energy flow. Within an order, of course, because the law of the jungle and of the strongest, would reign and conceal itself in the largest productivity possible. But an order resulting from shared liberty, of the search not for one wish because humans are born to realize themselves in life by responding themselves the fundamental question: “Who am I?”

As soon as they find their first paid job, there is no other task or objective than to work and to produce, the more the better, instead of knowing that the better, the more. Thus consumerist society is structured: you have to have in order to be accepted, not to be respected and welcomed as a valuable and fundamental person in society.

With all naturalness, it has been assumed that by stopping to produce, we must park elderly people so that they don’t bother, so that they leave their place to the youngest, so that they take care of their pains and their leaks. That’s why what I call “the parking of the unproductive” proliferates without taking into consideration that elderly people, in all the cultures where they have contributed to humanity’s authentic progress, have been respected and venerated under the unwritten but sacred law of the community. It would be a tremendous lack of respect to tell an old person in China, “I find you so young!” In all Africa and in India, as much as in pre-Columbian America, they elderly are offered the best seat and the most tender bite, they are asked for advice, they are paid attention, things are made easy for them so that their lives mature in peace and with serenity out of which all the community benefits. Because the elderly are the most valued of the great family that composes a well structured society.

We must not ask them to be different so that they become mature people. Maturity is accepting the responsibility of being oneself. To risk it all to be oneself.


José Carlos Gª Fajardo
Translated by Carlos Miguélez