A lot of work will have to be done to prepare for that revolution, including a change in a still very common form of discrimination: ageism.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission considers ageism the most common and most tolerated form of discrimination in Canada, and there are figures to back it up. Conducted in 2012, the survey for the Revera Report on Ageism found six in ten Canadian seniors feel they've been discriminated against because of their age. One in three Canadians admits to having done the discriminating at one point or another.

Sir Bedivere
Sir Bedivere is best known for returning Excalibur
to the Lady of the Lake, on behalf of the mortally
wounded King Arthur.
Seven in ten Canadians agree that their society values young people more than old ones.  That reminds me of the story of Sir Bedivere, King Arthur's long-time marshal.

Bedivere gets mentioned at the beginning of the Arthurian cycle of legends as a man of "perfect sinew" and of "furious nature with sword and shield" who also wielded a magic lance. In other words, he was a knight to be reckoned with.

He's mentioned again at the end of the cycle as the only one of Arthur's knights to survive the final battle. The mortally wounded king asks him to dispose of the magic sword Excalibur by throwing it into the waiting hand of the Lady of the Lake. And so the loyal, old knight gets to end the whole story with a reluctant swish and splash.  But it's his life in between that intrigues me because it gets so little mention despite all of Bedivere's obvious prowess.

Most of the attention is on all the young buckos who turn up at Camelot, make their mark, and end up becoming Knights of the Round Table — Gawain, Lancelot, Percival, Tristan, Erec, Galahad, the list goes on.

We can only speculate what Bedivere is up to while those lads hog the limelight. I imagine it something like this.  It's mid-morning. Everybody's had their cold splash and a hearty breakfast. The knights take their seats around the table, and Arthur hands out the quests of the day.

Another giant has been reported obstructing an important river crossing. "Lancelot, I want you to take care of that."  Complaints have come in of a witch luring children into the woods outside a village. "Percival, that's for you."

The offspring of a dragon Tristan slew a few years earlier has grown up and become a pest that needs to be dealt with. "Erec, you haven't slain a dragon yet. Go for it."

And so the assignments are handed out around the table until it's poor old Bedivere's turn.  "Sorry, Beddy," says Arthur. "I don't have anything for you right now. But you might check the mousetraps."

"Again," Bedivere grumbles into his grey beard as he trundles off.  Of course he's every bit as good at catching mice as he still is at giving any giant, witch, or dragon a good thrashing. He's also too nice a guy to complain in front of his king.

The Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse says the problem with ageism is that it's such a slippery slope. Older people may be perceived as different at first; slowly yet inexorably the notion of 'different' turns into the notion of 'less'.

"Ageing is a highly individual experience," a fact sheet by the Ontario Human Rights Commission reminds its readers. "It is not possible to generalize about the skills and abilities of an older person based on age."

Yet even older people themselves have bought into the notion of less.

An Ipso Reid survey, also from 2012, confirms that many Canadian workplaces shun older job applicants simply because of their age.  People surveyed were asked what their preferred age bracket would be if they did the hiring.

Generally, one would expect respondents to pick candidates of roughly their own age. Not so in the case of respondents 55 years and older. They preferred the 25 to 34 age bracket.

According to the Ontario Human Rights Commission, the prejudice against old age is woven into the very fabric of society. The commission concludes there's a clear tendency "to structure society based on the assumption that everybody is young."

And I'm thinking, poor old Beddy. He's in a hard place.  The only way he can save face is by convincing those around him that catching mice is every bit as challenging as lopping the heads off dragons — maybe even more so because mice are a lot smaller, a lot faster, and arguably not half as dumb as dragons. But what does that get him?

The king, his buddy, agrees with him, pats him on the shoulder, says, "Good job", and sends him off to chase more mice.

There was only one Beddy in King Arthur's days.  There will be millions in the years to come.
Clearly attitudes will have to change.