#atoz: L’ancien régime


Ancien is French for both ‘old’ and ‘former’, as in Il est mon ancien prof de français ancien (‘He’s my old, former French teacher.’). I think about this often. If I had to choose a favourite adjective in French, this would be it; I love all the adjectives that change definitions slightly depending on its position in the sentence.

I think about age often, being newly and strangely thirty. Since I teach high school, I sometimes feel old, but I am firmly in the middle of the age range of the teachers there.

Those who rule us or govern us are always in their 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond. True, there is wisdom borne of the time one spends on earth, but there is also recalcitrance, aversion to change and a general malaise. If I were to be cruel, I would say it was the stench of death. But I am not cruel often.

The average age of a Congress-person is 57, and the average age of a Senator 62. We have been told that these people have our best interests at heart, but greed and laziness keep our ability to innovate to a minimum. Being young, I would say that this is on purpose: keeping things confusing and old-fashioned scares people away: the barrier to entry is great if it takes you years to get to that place.

I am on the older edge of the incredibly fluid Millennial generation. I teach students who were born after September 11th, after Afghanistan and Iraq. These are not pivotal, life-changing moments in their lives like they were in mine and my cohorts and contemporaries. They see life as filled with unknowns, poorer than their parents and facing a future where doors are closing in their faces faster than those windows of opportunity are being opened.

Each generation says the one after it is not as good or clever or moral, but that is completely bunk. Each generation learns from the one before it; we have thousands of years of history to build upon, if we could but listen to it.

I am not advocating for the abolishment of all older people for office, but there is a reason that a President need only be 35, thirty to be Senator and 25 to be a Representative. Perhaps our Founding Fathers found value and wisdom in youth and perhaps we should as well.

Until next time. – SDM

If you’re interested in reading my other posts for this year’s A to Z challenge, check them out  here!


Triomphe de l’armée parisienne réunis au peuple a son retour de Versailles à Paris le 6 octobre 1789  (unidentified artist)