Age­ing, rel­e­vance, and ir­rel­e­vance

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY -

ITHE EDI­TOR, Sir: SAW a pic­ture of Mr Ed­ward Seaga re­cently, be­ing helped to the polls. A far cry from the Seaga with whom I’m more fa­mil­iar back in the day when he was Ja­maica’s prime min­is­ter. Ear­lier on, in the run-up to the lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions, I saw a pic­ture of the leader of the Op­po­si­tion, run­ning up an aisle at one of her elec­tion power cen­tres, to ‘mo­bilise’ her staffers into ac­tion. In that photo, she does not to me, look a day older than when she first got into na­tional pol­i­tics.

Mr Seaga turned 86 this past May. Mrs Por­tia Simp­son Miller – 15 years Mr Seaga’s ju­nior, will turn 71 this month. We all phys­i­cally, age dif­fer­ently. And who knows, when Mrs Por­tia Simp­son Miller gets into her 80s, God’s will­ing, she might be just as phys­i­cally sprightly as she is now.

But as I have been look­ing on both – con­tin­u­ing to read what one of them writes, and con­tin­u­ing to lis­ten to what one of them con­tin­ues to say – the en­tire busi­ness of age­ing, stay­ing rel­e­vant, and avoid­ing ir­rel­e­vance, came to mind.

I give both Mr Seaga and Mrs Por­tia Simp­son Miller, two thumbs-up, for stay­ing in the game. Or in the lat­ter’s case, at least, try­ing to.

But, stay­ing rel­e­vant is not as easy as one might think. Some­times, your area of ex­per­tise has di­min­ished in its mar­ketable value; some­times, your abil­ity to make the rounds has be­come lim­ited; some­times, the en­vi­ron­ment that once val­ued your ex­per­tise has shrunk, or may even no longer ex­ist. Last, you may have be­come so can­tan­ker­ous that even ‘with skills’, no one wants to en­gage ei­ther you or your ser­vices. Which­ever it might be, in a rapidly chang­ing world, it might be eas­ier to be­come ir­rel­e­vant than it is to stay rel­e­vant. But there’s a trick. If with ad­vanc­ing age, we in­sist on stay­ing rel­e­vant and stay in the game, we may have to rein­vent our­selves. Mr Seaga, de­spite ad­vanc­ing years, has tack­led some im­por­tant so­cio-eco­nomic top­ics in his Sun­day-morn­ing newsprint col­umn. You name it, Mr Seaga has not shirked away from tack­ling it

VAR­I­OUS PUB­LIC UTTERINGS

Re­gard­less of one’s pol­i­tics and re­gard­less of whether you agree with Mr Seaga’s points of view or not, at least he forces you to think. And out of his pub­lic dis­courses come ideas, some of which might be ac­tion­able. Mr Seaga has rein­vented him­self, and as frail as he might ap­pear, he’s in the game.

Re­cently, in the run-up to the par­ish coun­cil elec­tions, Mrs Por­tia Simp­son Miller ut­tered some un­savoury words in her re­marks in Clare­mont, St Ann. Those com­ments have been draw­ing ex­pres­sions of de­ri­sion, hor­ror, shock, and ridicule from all and sundry. I found my­self ask­ing, what have I learnt from those com­ments of Mrs Simp­son Miller? And when last have I learnt any­thing of ei­ther im­por­tance or rel­e­vance from her var­i­ous pub­lic utterings?

But never mind me. When par­ents write of shield­ing their im­pres­sion­able chil­dren from those sorts of pub­lic di­a­tribes, there’s no doubt in my mind that Mrs Por­tia Simp­son Miller is no longer rel­e­vant. And that ir­rel­e­vance goes be­yond be­ing just a politi­cian. When peo­ple don’t want to hear you speak in the pres­ence of their chil­dren, that’s hit­ting rock bot­tom. And the sad thing is, Mrs Por­tia Simp­son Miller is be­yond rein­vent­ing her­self. RAY FORD For­draye1@aol.com

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