Gil Mildar
As the song says, a Latin American with no money in his pocket.

You’re being an ageist jerk!

Cover of ‘The Economist’ magazine from July 4, 2024. — Photo: Reproduction

Ageism, that insidious plague, is spreading its poison on every corner. At 62, I feel the weight of this gradual and cruel distancing from activities that once filled my life. Society seems more inclined each day to push me into a corner as if my history, wrinkles, and experience were irrelevant.

We live in an era where youth is idolized, speed is the supreme virtue, and aging is seen as a flaw or weakness. I was a pillar of my family—through four marriages, raising a wonderful daughter, building a career, and contributing to my community—but now I am seen as an obstacle in progress. This distancing is not just professional; it is emotional and social. Like many others, I am surrounded by a fog of indifference, where my presence is tolerated but rarely desired.

The numbers here in Israel are cruel and revealing: less than 4% of CEOs are over 60. These numbers scream the exclusion of those whose experience could guide decisions with a more mature and thoughtful perspective. With its insatiable appetite for youth, the job market disregards the invaluable worth of decades of accumulated experience. This exclusion is a grave mistake that underestimates the potential of older individuals, ignoring that authentic leadership is not just about innovation but also wisdom.

When I look at the boards of directors of major companies in Israel, I see that the presence of members over 60 is minimal, making up less than 7% of the total. It reflects the institutionalized prejudice that pushes us to the periphery as if our contribution were of lesser value. It is a shortsighted policy that deprives organizations of a wealth of experience that could prevent repeated mistakes and guide sustainable growth.

Consider this: many of Israel’s top generals and government leaders are over 60. They are deemed fit to manage the complexities of warfare, yet not a department or a company. Is that the logic we are following? These leaders, with their decades of experience, guide our nation through conflicts, making decisions that affect the lives of millions. However, in the civilian sector, they are dismissed as outdated. This dichotomy is not just ironic; it’s a testament to the pervasive ageism that devalues older people.

Ageism is an invitation to silence, to invisibility. We are distanced from activities that once brought us joy and purpose. Our talents are forgotten, and our voices are silenced. What remains is a sense of uselessness, of being disposable. But this view is tragically wrong. The true wealth of a society lies in the diversity of its ages and the integration of the various stages of life.

Imagine a world where the president of a nation, represented by a walker, is seen not as a symbol of resilience but of incapacity. The message is clear: the old has no place in leadership, action, or life. It is a narrow and cruel vision that ignores the value of experience, the unique perspective that only years lived can provide.

Every wrinkle on my face is an unread poem; every trembling step I take is a testimony of overcoming. We must reevaluate our values to recognize the beauty and importance of all stages of life. Pushing older people away is pushing away an essential part of our humanity. It is a waste of knowledge, of love, of care.

Let us revalue the presence of older individuals in our society. We must listen to our stories, learn from our experiences, and appreciate our wisdom. Ultimately, we are all on this journey together, trying to find our way through existence’s uncertainties.

And now, about Biden. Can he have a bad day? Or has no one ever had a bad day? Seriously, is your focus on Biden and not on all the lies Trump has told? Is lying blatantly but with swagger okay for everyone, and is having a bad day the big issue? Really? There’s something wrong with that. Maybe if you’d asked for the opinions of older people, we could have avoided all of this. But no, you chose youth over wisdom, speed over thoughtfulness. And here we are, paying the price.

About the Author
As a Brazilian, Jewish, and humanist writer, I embody a rich cultural blend that influences my worldview and actions. Six years ago, I made the significant decision to move to Israel, a journey that not only connects me to my ancestral roots but also positions me as an active participant in an ongoing dialogue between the past, present, and future. My Latin American heritage and life in Israel have instilled a deep commitment to diversity, inclusion, and justice. Through my writing, I delve into themes of authoritarianism, memory, and resistance, aiming not just to reflect on history but to actively contribute to the shaping of a more just and equitable future. My work is an invitation for reflection and action, aspiring to advance human dignity above all.
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