Let’s hear it for the oldies!

Some claim life is over after you turn twenty-one. Others claim the best time of your life starts once you turn forty. What about your seventies or eighties – provided you make it?

Some folks moan about grey hairs, wrinkles, sagging bodies once they’re past thirty and others are simply unstoppable. Each decade seems to have its perks, but not many mention many, once they’ve turned eighty-something … yet:

“I can’t remember the title … I can’t remember a lot of things these days, except I can remember my lines! … I’m creeping up to 90 and feeling like a million dollars because I’m in London” a very happy Angela Lansbury stated.

Guess you’d feel like a million dollars too, if you won an Olivier Award while you’re just eighty-nine. Or you might be content just visiting London right now – regardless what age you are.

On the other hand, the sad news today is, that Nobel Prize winner Günter Grass died. His last novel, the slim “Crabwalk” or “In Krebsgang” impressed me very much and made me think hard about the issues it raises. Nevertheless, it’s understandable, that such an author causes controversies in certain circles with his books, plays, and other artistic creations.

Just how controversial some of his books were, becomes clear when one reads his books were burnt or shred to pieces by fellow countrymen who disagreed with him. But though such behaviour seems so medieval to some of us, we should remember that in some parts of the world whole archeological sites are destroyed because they do not fit zealots’ ideas of a country’s or people’s history and present religion.

One may disagree or agree with some of Grass’ views: at least he was open about his past, while so many others denied theirs. He did not shy away from stating his ideas and opinions, even if this caused countries like Israel to ban him from entering. Raising controversial ideas and opinions enables these to be discussed – something which is impossible in far too many countries already.

Unsurprisingly, Günter Grass supported Edward Snowden and others who showed how internet was and is still being used to snoop upon everything and everybody. He wisely steered clear of Facebook – calling it “crap” – long before its tax dodging and breaches of privacy laws hit the headlines. As he stated, while showing support for Snowden:

“A person under surveillance is no longer free; a society under surveillance is no longer a democracy. To maintain any validity, our democratic rights must apply in virtual as in real space.”

In this day and age, we not only need people like Angela Lansbury showing us that life need not be over once you’re past your sixties, seventies, eighties. We’re also in desperate need of more people like Günter Grass.

Guardian: Angela Lansbury reigns
Guardian: Günter Grass dies


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