"Life begins at 60."
“Workers of all lands unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains.”
This is the phrase inscribed on the tombstone of Karl Marx, the ideologue behind the socio-political theory of Marxism. It is the most famous rallying cry derived from the Communist Manifesto written in 1848 by Marx and Friedrich Engels, and inspired the October 1918 Revolution led by Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks that ousted Czarist rule in Russia.
It has since become the main slogan used every May 1, celebrated all over the world as Labor Day, denoting essentially the need for the working class to unite and rise up to push for better pay, workplace conditions and related enhancements for the benefit of working people. It was used by Marx and Engels in promoting Communism—the proletariat's (working class) struggle to defeat capitalism and capture political power as what happened in Russia in 1918.
I am sure today this will again be the overwhelming cry of all working classes the world over as the COVID-19 pandemic wreaks havoc, leaving most people in a state of fear and misery. In the United States alone, close to 20 million workers have filed for unemployment benefits—the most number since the Great Depression. That fate is not exclusive to America: It affects all workers worldwide as governments and employers scramble to support their workers by providing for wage subsidies and stimulus packages to ensure that their economies stay afloat as the pandemic ravages.
The Philippines is no exception and perhaps even more so than our neighbors in ASEAN as a considerable part of our GDP is contributed by the close to 10 million overseas Filipinos, many of whom will most probably be out of job for the foreseeable future. A lot of seafarers (40,000 as of latest count) and other workers, mostly in the service, travel and leisure sectors in the host countries, are now coming home. But this exodus back home will have to be another story.
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For now, I am focused on another sector which has risen in the past few days as government announced the easing of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) nationwide. This is the seniors sector, those aged 60 years old and above, which, as of last count, makes up roughly 10 percent (9.4 million) of the country's population.
They have decried and rightly so the broad, highly arbitrary and medically questionable rule announced by the national government banning them from getting out of their homes once the ECQ is eased into a general quarantine. This rule has united seniors to a degree that has shocked even those who had earlier acquiesced to the guidance based on what the government's advice that they are most vulnerable to acquire the disease thus its desire to "protect" them. So they should stay at home.
That has been dismissed as arbitrary and highly questionable on both medical and economic grounds. The seniors contend correctly that instead of such a broad "house arrest" order, the government should have limited the same to those with existing health conditions and under some kind of care. After all, most seniors not only in the Philippines but almost anywhere remain physically active and capable of taking care of themselves.
They would be in the best position, not government, how best to work out and avoid getting infected by any disease lurking out there including COVID-19. They will not rush out of their homes just to loiter around or mindlessly enter any place or go on a joy ride after the easing sets in. Given the experience of the years, they know exactly what needs to be done.
Moreover, and this is probably the principal factor in the equation specially here in the Philippines, most seniors are the breadwinners, owners of their own businesses, captains of industry and holders of positions moving the country as it combats this pandemic.
In a word, they hold the country's fate in their hands, COVID or no COVID. So intense has been the reaction to the rule that the country has been swamped with all kinds of petitions and arguments which have so captured the country's imagination to take stock and come to its senses. It has so united the sector that loads of posts have come out telling the government to its face that if it obliges people aged 60 and above to stay at home, there will be a " vacuum of leadership from national to local governments, big to small businesses and even households" virtually depriving the country of the most able and active hands to navigate it wisely and responsibly during this pandemic. To bring out this point one post went viral which i would like to print in full:
"A massive study in America found that the most productive age in a man's life is 60-70 years; from 70-80 is the second most productive and the third most productive is 50-60 years.
The average age of a Nobel Prize winner is 62; the average age of a CEO in a Fortune 500 company is 63; the average age of the pastors of the 100 biggest churches in America is 71; the average age of Popes is 76.
This tells us somehow that God has designed that the best years of your life are from 60-80 years: it is when you do your best work. A study published found that at 60 you reach your peak potential and continue up to 80!
Is it because "pattarivu" (knowledge gained by experience) is 1000 times more valuable than “pdipparivu" (knowledge gained by studies?). So, if you are between 60-70 or 70-80 you have the best and second best years of your life with you! "Well, I should know. I am a senior and I feel it. I am a senior and I adhere to the latest medical not to say economic bulletin: Life begins at 60. It's no longer at 40, as in the war generation. But 60 as in the “baby boomers" generation. So, let us all unite, rise and fight. Go, go, go!!