Recently I was waiting for a friend in a coffee shop. I was looking through the window at Kyiv autumn and listened to music. Incidentally, I heard some phrases from the table behind me. Normal, sound people were talking about things we read in social media and hear from TV, the things we are talking about, that is Ukraine and its current problems.
It wasn’t mumbling in the queue to a doctor’s office, neither was it complaining in the tram, something like “everything is bad”. However, it was a fluent conversation of middle-aged people, who are in search of some solutions, some peculiar kind of homemade analysis of causes and consequences. It was clear to me, life is not easy, people are active, they do something for themselves and for their country, they don’t flee, they work, someone volunteers, and someone brings up children as patriots. So they started to talk about the upcoming election campaign, “buckwheat”, “that generation”, and their nostalgia. They were talking about those who remained “soviet”.
Woman’s voice sounded firm: “When are they going to die, those old jerks?! It’s just like cement shoes or a millstone around the neck… For good reason that Moses wandered his people in the desert until the last slave had died.”
I looked back. At the table three meters from me, there were three women in their forties. These are people at their most active age when you already know and still can do something. They have a certain life experience and space for prospects. These people probably have children – 10 to 20 years old, born in an independent Ukraine. They also have parents 65-75 years old, that is, ones who came from the soviet times.
This is where my friend came, and we dived into our own conversation on another topic. Soon a group from the table next to us left the coffee shop, however, they left me the subject for reflection – are all elderly people so hopeless, and whether only with their departure from the arena of modern times, the country has a chance to change?
I recalled the horror story read a long time ago, it was “The Last Revolt” from one book by Bernard Werber. French author invented allegedly absurd situation when the state found “scapegoats” and took measures for their elimination, which were elegantly wrapped in positive.
“Two retirees looked through the window and saw a large barred CRPJ bus. It belonged to notorious Center for rest, peace and joy. The abbreviation was clearly written on the car, it was next to the logo of this administrative service: rocking chair, TV remote control, and chamomile flower. Employees came out from the bus in a pink uniform; one of them was carefully hiding a large net that served to capture rebellious seniors …”
I won’t make any spoilers to this story, I advise you to find it on the Internet and read it. It is one of those short stories that you think about for a long time after you’ve read it. It’s even one of those that are difficult to forget at all.
All of us understand the reasons for the lady’s emotional rhetorical question. Perhaps in other wording, you’ve seen something like this on social media, sometimes you maybe had this kind of thoughts after having lost hope to persuade, to “redo” those old “vatniks”(slang word that depicts someone as a blindly patriotic and not very smart pro-Russian person – translator’s note). However, it is not a matter of age in fact. Weren’t there a lot of well-informed elderly people from all over Ukraine at the Maidan in times when a big part of the young people was indifferent to it? Are there few seniors, who help our soldiers, as much as they can, even without the financial ability to help? They make warm socks (there is even a “Socks’ Hundred”!), dozens and hundreds of jars with canned food are cooked and transferred to the frontline for our defenders. They weave camouflage nets, collect plastic caps and send them to volunteers who know how to turn them into something beneficial; they go to the hospital to help and support the wounded… Does every young person do it?
Some of them were previously conscious and active, somebody opened their eyes after events experienced together with our country, and they do it because of rethinking of those “Soviet stability”, founded on the big lie and deception of totalitarian power. However, these people are active and much respected in those societies, which they joined with their help. They want to understand, they are able to analyze and they offer their time and strength for good deeds. Moreover, they also carry out educational work among people of their age, because their peers will listen and understand rather them than young people impatient to explanations. How can one listen to a grandchild, if: “you can’t teach your grandmother to suck eggs!” For someone, their age ambitions are of the highest priority. they somehow don’t think that their grandkids are those who will live in the country of future.
The time is so quick and fast that those who today are barely forty will suddenly appear in the category of those who are over sixty. Will they start to beware of young people, for whom they can become an obstacle? Probably, it will stimulate them to motivate their significance and usefulness of their existence somewhere in the middle of the 21st century. They will work on themselves so that their brains won’t cover with rust so that their usefulness for the family and for society will raise no doubts…
Fortunately, even in our reality, there are changes. And those who don’t want to be a “ballast” of our society have a desire and opportunity for active life. These are the “University of the Third Age” with a wide choice of free education, social programs for seniors, and chatting with peers on the Internet. This is the search for like-minded people and interesting common goals such as environment protection, creative activities, and support for those who need help. However, there is also an option of attending paid rallies, where humble retirees are trying to make money. But who, if not young people, can patiently explain to them the treachery of such leisure…
Those who don’t want to be a ballast, learn something new, he or she is interested in the country where his grandchildren dream to live, they seek pluses in nowadays, and don’t mourn pluses of their youth, cursing the present, the part of which they are themselves.
And progressive and thinking elderly people are not a millstone around the neck, they are a treasure. Therefore, the question “when are they going to die?” is a very generalized cry in my opinion.