For the record, although I am only 30 years old, as a teenager I was deeply involved in the GLBT movement in Jamaica. I often times resented older folks sharing their knowledge with me. They were always quick and ready to tell me to do this, avoid that, listen to this message, take this into consideration etc. I often felt that all they wanted to do was to take sexual advantage of me and so many times I would brush off their suggestions by muttering under mi breath or thinking to myself “Gallang yah, you old, yu can say anything”
As I got older and more experienced I found myself wanting to give advice to every GLBT youth that I came across. Yes, some of them were very cute and sexy but my main objective was to impart some of my knowledge to them so that they would not also make the mistakes or bad judgments that I made. I genuinely wanted to save them from falling into any pot holes into which I had dropped. But they made me taste some of the same medicine that I would give to elders when I was younger. They too did not want to hear what was being said by me(the older person) because in the back of their heads might have lingered the thought “him waan tek advantage a mi”. Some might even have said behind my back, “Gallang yah, you old, yu can say anything”. One effect of this is that the older person therefore becomes reserved and refrains from giving any advice and becomes very measured in what is shared and the risk taken. This is what the proverb means by the convenience of the fence side in old age as opposed to exploring the unlimited and untamed pastures in youth.
The reality is that with age comes wisdom and clearly the words of the wise and foolish should be listened to. The moral is that older folks have wisdom and experience to share and can provide you with some suggestions. They must be cautious about what they do and how they go about doing it. Youth, you have the strength, the energy, and the skills of the 21st century and are destined to do a good job and to change the world. The challenge is that both the ole bull (older persons) with all their experience and maturity; and the young bull (younger persons) with all their energy and vigor have to work together to achieve the ultimate of building better lives and developing the GLBT community. One cannot do without the other.
Stay well, be strong, have faith, and work together.
Father Mother, God in your eyes you do not see the divisions of young and old. Therefore help us all to feast on the wealth of knowledge and experience that you have for us as GLBT persons. Help us to come together in love and learn one from the other as we thank you for this beautiful gift of life.
Written by Linford Cunningham (firstname.lastname@example.org)