Our parents, grandparents and elders were recently called “not essential to the productive effort of our Country” by the President of my region, Liguria. I believe that this question is not even part of the political debate between right and left wing. It is, instead, a moral issue because if a political representative of that level dares to consider our elders unproductive people, this means that at least half of the people living in my region (his voters) think the same.
“O tempora, or mores!” (What times! What customs!) Cicero would shout again. Nothing makes sense in a society in which those who are experienced and wise are judged according to ruthless principles of productivity. We are a community of people, not a factory!
Our parents and grandparents worked hard at their job for more than 40 years, they lovingly take care of our children so that we can go to work when they are sick, they help us financially when we fall on hard times, they always have Sunday lunch ready and they fill our fridge with vegetables grown in their garden. I’d say that their productivity level is pretty good.
However, even if they were not so productive, they gave us the gift of life and, for this reason, they deserve our respect. In civilizations where people lived in harmony with Mother Earth and Nature, the elders were always considered the most important members and gave advice on relevant issues: they were shamans, sages, tribal chiefs.
They may not be productive according to the implacable rules of neoliberalism, but they are valuable people, who help us through their experience, who represent our historical memory, they are our family roots that allow us to grow and flourish, they are the reference point we go to when the life gets tough.
Maybe we should stop pointing the finger at politicians, who are nothing more than our representatives, and start to reconsider our way of life and our moral values. Maybe we should all be aware of the fact that without roots, there will be no fruits.
Cover picture showing the hand of my “improductive” father