With the problems in the economy and job market, one of the new ideas being proposed is to encourage or force old people to retire. This new idea has been proposed in nearly every generation. We remember it from when we were in our twenties, nearly forty years ago.

Our daughter has become very upset with this idea. No, she is not afraid that we will take an early retirement and start bothering her. She teaches Chinese and Political Science. She sees such a program as removing the people from her industry who have first hand knowledge and experience from the last political cycle.

We view the issue differently. We would like to see an early retirement for those people who are old and restricted in thought. We know people who are in their twenties and are not open to new ideas and have never been open. We also know people who are over fifty and are always seeking new ideas, new horizons and new solutions.

At one time we worked with a school system on their technology committee. They had a teacher who converted the engine shop into a technology lab. He was teaching hydraulics, desktop publishing, robots, etc. He had developed the entire curriculum and had even cloned it into another school.

This young and innovative teacher was under the gun to complete the process and find someone new to head the effort. He had only a couple of years before the school system forced him to retire, due to his age. He had several people that he was working with who could implement what he had created. They were thirty or forty years younger, but they were not innovative enough to grow and continue to keep the project current.

Our daughter’s concern is at the heart of another issue. As it is said “if we do not learn from history we are forced to repeat it.” To paraphrase, if we are unaware of the mistakes of the past we will waste time and energy relearning them. That is, if we remove the people with experience we must make all the old mistakes again.

Mark Twain defined experience as the lesson you learn just after you needed it. Age allows us to experience much. Age does not mean that we are slowing down or becoming restricted in our thoughts. Age also does not mean that we are wiser. Many people have many years on the planet but have learned little. They have experienced much but have little experience.

There is a great difference between having one hundred experiences and having one experience one hundred times. If you ride the same roller coaster one hundred time in a row, you may have set a record and be tired or bored. If you ride one hundred roller coaster you can rate them against each other and can deduce what makes a roller coaster a roller coaster. You know roller coaster not just a roller coaster.

A young friend said that we are 60/20. Our calendar age is sixty but our mental age is twenty. We are the people that they come to for new ideas. We are not ridged in our thought processes.

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