[FOUNTAIN]Youth is all in the mind

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[FOUNTAIN]Youth is all in the mind

The Minnesota State Medical Association defines the elderly as:

1) Those who think they are old;

2) Those who think they have learned enough;

3) Those who frequently use the phrase, "Why should I be doing that at this age?"

4) Those who say tomorrow is unknowable;

5) Those who have no interest in the activities of younger people;

6) Those who prefer talking to listening;

7) Those who reminisce about the "good old days."

The above guidelines are quoted in a book written by a consultant, Van Crouch, called "Winning 101." The more a reader identifies with the definitions, the older he is. Scientific? Who knows. Doctors I met at year-end parties just smiled and shook their heads when asked.

In times when sentiment toward the United States conjures up the image of candlelight protest vigils, this definition of aging may seem to have nothing to do with us.

But many Koreans can probably empathize with it. In particular, older Koreans who have felt a rush of conflicting emotions in the past few months may well feel attuned to it. That is particularly so because the presidential election unfolded as a generational change pitting voters in their 20s and 30s against those in their 40s and 50s.

I admit to meeting three of the tests. President-elect Roh Moo-hyun has summed up this election as the "eclipse of the famous." It might sound like rubbing salt into the wounds, and those mentioned by Mr. Roh might feel bitter when they see the list above. The 46 percent of the voters who opted for the loser will surely feel the bite.

But one should not forget that one of these days, those younger voters will face the same situation.

Although the seven definitions sound pessimistic, the message of hope runs through them. Mr. Crouch argues that those who lose their dreams and hopes age faster. Some people are inclined to paint even their bad memories of the past as the "good old days" and stolidly remain deaf to the voices of the young. With 2002 gone and the new year ushered in, we should restore our faith so that our lives do not wither away. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, the 2002 Nobel peace laureate who is admired mainly for his post-presidency work, said, "When regret replaces dreams is when we start to age," in his book "The Virtues of Aging."

* The writer is the head of Forbes Korea at the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Sohn Byoung-soo

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