Thursday, August 24, 2023.
All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts…
– William Shakespeare
(from As You Like It, spoken by Jaques)
1. The early stages are the most frustrating.
You say something, hardly anybody believes it. You know it will happen.
Some ‘experts’ actually ridicule you. Who is this ‘child’ who thinks he can talk in our field…?
2. The middle stages
You have been right many times. But it annoys some people, especially some older ones. They are cautious, however, because you have been right in the past and some people know this.
You say something, they know you may be right. They will not accept it, not publicly. Some actually will go and say the same thing you said privately, taking credit for it.
Some young ones agree with what you say but will not come out publicly to support you, because they don’t want to offend some ‘powerful elders.’
3. The ‘latter stages’
You have some grey hair. But still there are older ones (some retired but on contract) who see you as ‘a competition.’ You want to show that you are better?
You say something. It makes sense, but they must challenge it with theories to show that they are the authorities in the field.
Many young ones at this point trust you, but they dare not show this publicly. The ‘elders’ still have power. If they are seen not to be on the side of the ‘elders’ in authority, life can be difficult for them.
At this point even when you say something that is not right, some people (especially younger ones) will agree with many of them, some without even thinking. Some are unconvinced or disagree with you, but fear to express opposing views. Very few will disagree with you, especially publicly.
You are in danger of becoming what you fought against as a younger person.
You have to actively encourage younger ones to express their views, especially if they do not agree with you. It is seen as ‘UnGhanaian.’ In the typical Ghanaian system ‘the elder is always right, the elder does not apologise.’
4. The ‘senile’ stage
You are tolerated.
The younger ones are obviously sharper than you. How you carried yourself in the past and how you carry yourself will determine how you are treated.
Did you build people to become better than you, or you always felt nobody could be as good as you?
If you nurtured people to become better than you, you may bask in their ‘protection,’ be tolerated for much longer to share your experiences, some of which may be outmoded.
If you didn’t nurture people, you may find yourself constantly fighting younger people because you may want to still stay relevant – try to implement your ‘outmoded ideas’ while the younger ones resist…
5. Death and how you will be remembered long after you are gone.
This depends on your vision how many ‘disciples’ you made.
Thanks to social media, these days most of the things you say and do will be available for scrutiny by the generations that come after you.
Will you die for a new scientific truth to triumph, or your new scientific truth will triumph after some people are dead?
“A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”
– Max Planck.