Nor was I surprised that the older age groups were less concerned about themselves: their looks, appearance, image, achievements, being lonely.
The interesting result though was that of concern for what’s happening in the world, government, climate, war, economy, terrorism. The table below shows the percentage in each age group that said they were concerned about society.
30 - 44
45 - 59
Without having seen the questionnaire nor any paper associated with this survey it is hard to determine its veracity. However, assuming the results are at least indicative, then it suggests that those aged over 60 are around twice as likely as those under 45 to be concerned about the world.
What is interesting about this is: what is this telling us? There could be at least two possible explanations. One explanation could be that as we age we grow less concerned about ourselves and a lot more concerned about the world. The other explanation could be that those aged over 60 have always been concerned about the world. If the survey had been conducted 40 years ago when those now (in 2012) over 60 would have largely been aged under 30 would they have still reported a high concern for the world. 1972 (for those that can remember) was seeing huge anti-Vietnam demonstrations in the US, Australia, New Zealand and many other Western nations. The anti-apartheid/racism movement was gaining huge momentum as was the feminist movement. Students in Paris had aligned with workers and had almost brought down the French government just 4 years earlier. It seemed to be a time that young people were demonstrating a massive concern for the state of the world.
Only a longitudinal study could answer whether we keep our concerns for the world throughout our life or whether we change those concerns as we age. However, it does have me asking: how much do we care for the state of society and the world? Are we less concerned, or more concerned? The 1960s and 70s certainly showed more overt concern by way of the marches, demonstrations, sit-ins and instances of civil disobedience. But one could argue that there wasn’t a lot of building of alternatives to the systems being railed against.
As we begin the 21st Century though, I do see many examples of alternatives being built. I read about ways of thinking as to how we can improve society. Communities are experimenting with alternative forms of exchange, eco-friendly housing is being built, restorative justice suggests that communities can solve issues and indigenous peoples are gaining recognition not just of their rights but also of their wisdom.
I’d like to think then that we are becoming more concerned and that we are attempting to translate that concern into practical action. How about you? Do you see greater concern for the world? Can we presume to hold out hope?