Activities for Silver Age, Why Not to Lower the Threshold
Supper-appointed Researcher of Zin Jin Media Tink Tank
Former Full Senior Editor of Xinhua Daily
Who is Huang Chenghua?
Huang Chenghua is a 70-year-old man who lives in Xuanwu District, Nanjing. If it were not an article “the Sculpting Time of a Seventy-year Old Man” published on April 20th in the Xinhua Daily, I am afraid that few people have ever heard of him.
Why would Xinhua Daily report him?
Because he used his expertise in carpentry carving techniques to make use of waste tree branches and decoration wastes to make chairs for public spaces in the community, micro-farm tools, goods of furniture for display, and toys, which not only benefits the neighborhood but also carries forward the traditional culture.
Some people praised that: Huang Chenghua's products are "the nostalgia that one can remember."
Some people commented that Huang’s practice is not only environmentally friendly, but also creates a community culture that brings warmth to neighbourhoods. Master Huang is truly a practitioner of a civilized society!
A model of a peasant household made by Huang Chenghua
What I was thinking of was that: there are actually a lot of senior people like Master Huang who have such skills. If other senior people can use their own expertise as Huang to solve problems for neighbors and make contributions to the society, this will benefit both the people and the country.
How can we have more people like Huang Chenghua to benefit the neighborhood?
First of all, don't be too narrow about the understanding of "specialty."
Huang Chenghua's carpentry carving technique is of course a specialty. Electricians, hydraulic workers, masons, cooks and medical staff also have unquestionable expertise. But what else?
I have a classmate who sings well. Although he is over 60-year-old, his voice is as good as that of young people. Moreover, he is outgoing and expressive. If he is allowed to take the lead to teach the elderly to sing or organize an elderly choir, he will be competent.
I also have a classmate who is responsible for a lot of renovation projects in the units. He has rich experience in the selection of decoration materials, the management of the decoration team, and the quality assurance of the decoration, and he is earnest and steadfast in his work. If he is consulted by his neighbor's about the decoration, he will certainly be willing to do so.
I also have a colleague who is major in education. His voice is cadenced and rich in feeling with full of effectiveness. Could it be said that it is a reasonable allocation and utilization of resources if we invite him to tell stories to the children or to chat with the elderly people who are not living with their children?
In short, a too narrow interpretation of the “specialty” of the elderly will inevitably lead to that only a few or even some individuals are willing to serve people. This is not conducive to mobilizing people's enthusiasm to the greatest extent, and will also restrict the generation and development of this shared and win-win model.
Secondly, the function of organization is crucial.
Huang Chenghua's voluntary services for the neighborhood should certainly be affirmed, but some people with expertise do not serve the others spontaneously, which is caused by subjective and objective constraints.
For example, Huang Chenghua's expertise in making chair, craft ornaments or toys is more suitable for display, and everyone know his skills after seeing his products, and then they send him the remaining materials of decoration; however, some people's expertise (medicine for example) is not suitable for showing to outsiders.
Another example is that Huang Chenghua is willing to interact with the nursery workers near the community, so that he can get some raw materials from them after they are familiar with each other; while some people who have skills are introverted, and they are not good at or even resist to interact with people.
Carved wooden bird
This needs an intermediary agent.
In fact, some places have begun to have a try – sub-district offices or neighborhood committees have registered the people with skills, and they will record their help to others as a basis for receiving help from others in the future.
This will undoubtedly play an active role in the communication of supply and demand information, the promotion of resource sharing, and the improvement of service efficiency.
But needless to say, this has apparently not been popularized.
This is an obvious good thing for mutual benefit, but why the progress is slow?
And this comes to the third point –
Thirdly, related concepts should be updated and related policies should be adjusted.
At least the following concepts should be upgraded:
The first is that only to treat young people as “talents” rather than those who can contribute to the society.
Recently, the battles between cities to attract the “talents” have become increasingly hot. It has been pointed out that the battle is only a "zero-sum game" from a long-term perspective. It is more important to "create talents".
There is no disagreement on the necessity of “creating people”. However, from the policies introduced by local governments, it can be seen that the orientation of talents generally refers to graduating students, masters and doctors. In fact, on the issue of the talent, it is also necessary to “make good use of increments” and “revitalize stocks,” and “stock” should include retirees who are physically and mentally healthy. Although they no longer play a role in the production line, they can do a great job in building a harmonious community.
The second is that although all localities are promoting the aim of “letting the elderly will be looked after after properly, have someone to depend on, can do something in the old age and can be happy in their old age”, in some people’s minds, to do something in the old age is either the personal matter—to take care of their grandchildren or it is the matter of experts, scholars, and senior intellectuals. The problem of how ordinary old people accomplish something in their later lives has not attracted widespread attention and has not been well studied.
For example, in 2003, the National Committee for the Aging advocated and organized the “Action of Sliver Age”, aiming at guiding older intellectuals to do something in their later lives. Since then, retired elder intellectuals in large and medium-sized cities located mainly in the eastern region, have carried out intelligence assistance operations in various forms to the western regions or economically underdeveloped regions, which has achieved remarkable results.
However, it turned out that letting more elderly people use the knowledge, skills, and experiences they have accumulated over the years to serve the community is not only conducive to the whole society to enhance the awareness of accepting, respecting, and helping the elderly, but also helps the elderly to increase the self-respect awareness of self-esteem, self-reliance and self-improvement. And is also a positive energy for providing for the aged as well as social development and progress.
Therefore, “Activities for Silver Age, Why Not to Lower the Threshold” – participants are expanded from old intellectuals to all physically and mentally health senior citizens with advanced skills, and the activities are expanded from conducting the intelligence aid in western China to various activities with a theme of “senior people should do something in their later lives”, which the young elderly serve the old elderly and the health elderly help the disabled elderly.
The third is that many people think the retirees stuff can only be managed by sub-district office and community resident committee.
Sub-district office and community resident committee should be responsible for the “Activities for Sliver Age”, but the work of community resident committee are complicated. Under such circumstances, it is time to find ways to mobilize the enthusiasm of more people and work together.
For example, charitable organizations. Charitable organizations have the desire and motivation to help the poor, and some well-established charities are more capable of doing this. Giving full play to their superiority in management and specific operations will help to manage a wide range of community affairs.
Another example is social groups. Most of the members of the existing social organizations are serving staff. Retirees who still contribute their remaining energy need to set up organizations to solve problems which are difficult to deal with all by oneself so as to eliminate their worries. For example, many doctors retired but are still occupied in medical work, which is indeed an indispensable part of China's medical human resources map. However, although the state encourages retired doctors to continue to work in the community or open individual clinics, there are no clear follow-up support policies, for example, the assessment, re-education and academic research of retired doctors are all lack of improved mechanisms, and no government departments or organizations are responsible for coordination and management.
The power of the market may also be borrowed. Some people worry that borrowing market forces will increase the economic burden on the people. In fact, this worry may be redundant. On the one hand, some market behavior is “to transfer the costs by the third party”, and it may not necessarily need direct beneficiaries to pay, for example, sharing bicycles. On the other hand, even if some expenses are needed to be paid, it should be within the range that consumers can afford. Otherwise, Party A will "vote by foot” (refers to administrative areas where the flow of capital, talent and technology can provide superior public services).
As regards the relevant policies to be adjusted, it is necessary to go deep into practice and listen to the opinions and suggestions of the parties concerned. The support of funds should be “the principles that are included in the topic – cultural industry and high and new technology have policy subsidies, so community services should get more policy subsidies? Because, by comparison, is this not the government's responsibility?
Micro spinning wheel
In the article “the Sculpting Time of a Seventy-year Old Man”: The most impressive part of the sculpting time of Huang’s retirement is not his superb craftsmanship, but his ingenuity, concept of nature, and view of life.
I very much agree with this point of view, and I feel that this point of view can be used as a further extension – the aging society has arrived and the signal of lack of human resources has continued to spread, however, even without such backgrounds, the role of retirees should be fully utilized, which can be also regarded as “an ingenuity, concept of nature, and view of life”.