Many developed countries in the world are now facing a race with time (not against it). The ever-developing countries are relatively young and have different problems that come with a young population. However, a young headache is considered better than an old one.
Queen Elizabeth II symbolizes an ageing developed world. She represents a generation that has grown old in a developed world, when most of the developing world has grown young. We will not go on the line of argument that she has been one of the privileged to have aged gracefully in a difficult world. We are just looking at her as a woman who has become old over the years.
The Queen’s generation also represents the biggest group of pensioners, retired public servants, old-age benefit seekers and the group that needs constant access to health services. Although this profile can describe any greying population, a shortage of younger population which can take care of the elderly is a serious concern, which bothers only the developed world. It so happens that most people in developed world also believe (more or less) in independent living from an early age, which can make them more vulnerable in their twilight years. Because of their evolved life styles, now a situation has come in which the governments have to provide for both care for the elderly as well as incentives for fertility. It appears that a life that is ‘too proud’ to go back to a shared living may be the reason behind this problem. The shortage of younger people is just a symptom.
Now, have a look at the images I have clicked of the Queen embossed on coins since the 1970s. I have deliberately chosen the backgrounds. Click on the image to see an enlarged version.
It is refreshing to see these coins keeping up with time and updating their images once in every ten years or so. You can also see the emphasis on the detail. The ability of a typical western civilization to see any element in detail is tremendous. However, in that process it compromises continuity and fails to see any problem in its entirety. It knows that the problem is here to stay. It remembers the past but struggles (often fails) to draw important conclusions from it to understand the present and decide a future.
In India, coins and currency notes have had dead and old politicians, endangered wild life, and an old ‘n’ stuck Mahatma Gandhi’s picture on them as long as I can remember. Because of either economic reasons or our lifestyle that has evolved in a different direction, we are aware of better ways to deal with age. Perhaps, it is also important to remember that we learned it long ago. Learning from the past is different from remembering what we have learnt in the past.