A celebration of incredible volunteerism and positive ageing, came across at the 2013 Ballincollig Tidy Town awards. At the grand age of 99 Joe Kavanagh still manicures his lawns to a billiard table standard and rightly received a round of applause, matching the levels that greeted the news of the Entente Florale silver award. Joe is a source of inspiration.
In fact all old people are potential sources of inspiration which helps to be more forgiving about their foibles. My own father has superb eyesight .A cataract operation was so successful that it meant he no longer had to wear glasses. The only problem was people didn’t recognise him, so he is still bespectacled but noticed! Speaking to him on the phone though is an audible challenge. Gone are the days when you might have talked about the shenanigans of government, it doesn’t matter which colour it is, they are always wrong; or raise issues like Climate Change which to dad is “nothing new under the sun”- it is just way the weather is.
So my father would not have been applauding the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, saying they are 95% certain it is down to human activity. Not that many of us, were actually applauding.
In fact as I listened on the radio the report left me with a chill creeping down my spine. If I reach my 94th year just before the middle of the century, what will be the state of play? Will governments have been on a war footing and bravely collaborated over this volatile certainty, and made sure my last years are spent peacefully in my rocking chair, even possibly tending the lawn? Or will they, as I suspect, continue to flout their green credentials, but not let the issue shape all their policies as a war footing requires? And what about my children’s children who will be the actively ageing in 2090, when the worst outcomes of climate change are predicted?
Like many, I vaguely hope technology will save the day. Of course faith in a God who from the beginning brought beauty and purpose out of chaos is the hope I hold on to – I will not be alone when I rock my chair! But faith was never meant for cruise control, easy living. The God who brings order out of chaos is the God of justice. This is a justice issue. Because it is over consumption of the earth’s resources which means there is something new under the sun –some rather unwelcome activity. Therefore I need to pray, act, and speak out. and also to be an example. Be someone who may even inspire others to act.
And age is no limit to the source of inspiration. For the Tidy Town guests it was Joe .For myself and the climate change issue it is Jennifer Sleeman, At over 80, not only is she an example of active ageing, but a godly justice campaigner from Clonakilty, who was the person who I heard say we need to be on a war footing over the issue of climate change. In 2008 she also formed the Sustainable Clonakilty group http://www.sustainableclon.com/ .
Jennifer won’t like a lot praise, but if we act now, she’s the sort of person who our children’s children will be applauding in 2090 ….please God.