ROTHENBURGER – Captain Kirk fires a broadside at pervasive cultural ageism

(Image: CBC, Blue Origin)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

CAPT. JAMES T. KIRK yesterday boldly went where no 90-year-old has gone before.

He didn’t explore strange new worlds or seek out new civilizations but he got a very fine view of our own world.

Iconic Canadian actor William Shatner of Star Trek fame took a 10-minute ride in billionaire Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin capsule and became the oldest man ever to reach the edge of outer space.

Shatner’s amazing accomplishment was about much more than show business or scientific advancement or even humanity’s hopes and dreams, as some are saying. His advanced age and his ability to go through the rigors of the training and actual journey were a statement on behalf of an entire generation.

It’s a generation that is too often dismissed as a useless encumbrance on society, that’s routinely characterized as not worth listening to because they’re too frail or simply out of touch.

Seniors, according to those who are not yet seniors, don’t own smartphones because they don’t know how to use them. They supposedly don’t use Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or other social media vehicles because their brains are stalled firmly in the horse-and-buggy days.

Yep, society is saddled with looking after them; they’re nothing but “a drain” on those “hard-earned tax dollars.”

There’s a word for that kind of thinking, and it’s “ageism.” That particular “ism” is every bit as despicable as racism or homophobia or any other kind of intolerance based on who people are rather than what they do or have done. The difference is that there’s an assumption out there that it’s somehow culturally OK to openly belittle anyone with grey hair.

It’s not. Seniors know more than a little about hard work and hardship. Whatever success young people enjoy would have been impossible without old people.

William Shatner’s brief but brave journey yesterday was a firm rebuke to all those who write off the older generation as unworthy or incapable.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (9370 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

1 Comment on ROTHENBURGER – Captain Kirk fires a broadside at pervasive cultural ageism

  1. Agreed, but the money could have produced far more lasting, human and societal benefits if it had been donated to the establishment or support of further gerontology research, children’s hospitals, or the like… anything that would outlast the massive pollution-producing fart in a windstorm dedicated to a has-been ham actor, however iconic or popular he may have been. Why do we continue to revere such waste and pollution in the name of hero worship? Enough of his supercilious glibness. Something more morally and historically substantial would have been better……..I know….Killjoy….

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