We’ve been to a Dubliners’ concert the other night. It was impressive to see the old men perform. 49 years on stage and still they sound amazing. In short, the concert was brilliant.
Especially, Barney McKenna, 71 years of age, played his banjo like a young man with a virtuosity in his fingers that you can’t help admiring.
However, being from Germany although living in England for the past four years, I wondered whether someone like Barney McKenna would be possible in Germany. I mean, would it be possible for him to perform? I think not. First, I’m quite certain that a number of legal restrictions and insurance issues would prevent organizers from letting him access the stage. Secondly, I’m almost as certain that the German Nanny State does prevent someone like Barney McKenna from happening. Sound’s weird, but it isn’t.
Official ideology in Germany has it, that working people have to look forward to their retirement. They have to feel joy, when thinking about retirement and they have to forget all about work, once they crossed the assumed biological border that divides working life from retirement. With retirement come social workers and all the busy people who help you here and there, do this and that for you, because you are old and can’t really care for yourself, at least this is what is expected of you. It is exactly this point, I want to make. Nanny states reward people for doing nothing. For retiring into oblivion for example, for quitting public life and, if at all, turn up in a nursing home for the elderly.
Barney McKenna needs some assistance with walking. I am certain, if he were German, he would have to confront a chorus of voices, telling him that he is too old to be on stage, that his health does suffer, that his ability to perform has declined and so forth. Many people would discourage him, few would encourage him. This is the main feature of a Nanny State. It does discourage people to live-up to their wishes, it tells people not to demand too much and not to strive for a goal that may seem a bit far-fetched. We are all human, the good people would say, and what they mean by that is: be mainstream, fall in line, don’t demand anything from you that is deemed above the ordinary by us and don’t strive for anything special, … don’t live!