Everyone has their own idea about what it will be like to grow old or to become sick. One famous writer who investigated the contradictions between superficial images and real experience was J P Sartre. He wrote “You see a woman; you think that one day you will see her growing old, only you don’t see her growing old. But there are moments when you think you see her growing old and you feel yourself growing old with her: that is the feeling of adventure.” Sartre, Nausea p.85. In the book he laments that his friend Anny would never let him see her grow old and her absence is one root cause of the nausea he is experiencing. He realises that choosing image over reality has caused them both to suffer. This sounds like a very sad story, but it is actually very positive.
Seeing ageing as an active process, even an adventure, defines an elderly person as somebody real who cannot be easily labelled and ignored. It is a positive alternative to the image often presented in the media of a person stuck in a wheelchair in a Southern Cross care home passively watching the TV. Providing for material needs is an essential prerequisite for a healthy active and happy retirement.
The coalition government knows that millions of people will be striking on the 30th of November in defense of public sector pensions. Millions of workers will join the N30 protests on pensions. Given the weakened and increasingly unpopular nature of this coalition these are struggles that can be won.