I can remember as a youngster hundreds of times being told if I wanted to know something to go and ask my grandparents. It was not because this was a” nice” thing to do, it was done because the adult I was speaking to initially did not know the answer, and that adult was smart enough to know that my grandparents through experience were more likely to have the answer.
My grandparents, and other elders of the same approximate age had something there is no substitute for, personal experience with most of life’s problems. Some of those problems I’m sure they failed to resolve, and would’ve faced differently in hindsight, but they had the experience and knowledge they came from facing life’s problems head on.
The adults of this time, (age 35 – 50), knew that there was much knowledge and experience to be gained by seeking the council of those older and wiser. The culture at this time was one of someone who has faced life’s trials and tribulations and has attained stature and respect from those within his or her familial unit was automatically thought to be better qualified to give advice than someone 20 to 45 who was in the middle of facing some of these problems, and probably had not faced all of them.
Somewhere between the late 50s and early 60s American culture decided that this experience and knowledge from these elders was useless and irrelevant. I suspect the motive behind this was that the mores and morals of the culture had changed so drastically that younger people began to decide somehow magically when one reached the age of 20 they became endowed with all the knowledge they would ever need and advice from grandparents, or for that matter even parents or older adults, was not relevant due to the mystical, magical endowment of all knowledge simply for reaching the age of 20. Why ask anyone about anything when you already knew everything that you needed to know?
While my analogy may be a bit over the top, this was certainly a phenomenon that happened. We have developed into a culture which treats those with the most knowledge and experience as doddering idiots, people to be ignored, people who can barely function in the activities of daily living let alone make serious decisions. It seems to suit our culture now to berate, ignore, and generally try to make irrelevant anyone over the age of 50 to 55. Do you think I’m kidding? When is the last time you saw an ad for almost anything that was geared towards seniors and elders with the exception of health products and insurance? Being in this category myself, I not only can’t remember an ad like that, I find myself today wondering what the ads today were about when their over, because the product was either barely mentioned or left out of the it altogether.The irony of this is simply the fact that, for the most part, elders in our society are the ones with the money to buy these products, especially those with high-end price tags.
It might just be me but I think it’s time that we first of all stop calling senior citizens” seniors”, and start calling them the elders of society. We have developed such a poor image and the connotation with the term “seniors”, it almost makes me cringe when I hear it. On the other hand, at least for the moment, the term “Elders” seems to still carry some connotation of knowledge and experience. You may ask yourself why I think this is so important? The simple answer I would give you is that we as a culture have ignored this experience and knowledge to the point that our country and culture at best is more or less a chaotic hodgepodge akin to a weather vane which turns whatever way the latest twitter feed, Facebook post,or instagram trend sets it spinning. The slightest comment seems to set off one section of our population like a firecracker no matter how small that segment is. Opinions either cannot be voiced, or they must be so carefully worded by almost everyone in the public eye that they really can no longer be considered an opinion, perhaps just a passing comment because the firestorm that is set off by a “real” opinion, no matter which side of the issue it comes from, engulfs the person who gave it in such a tornado of controversy, in many cases they spend weeks, months, and yes even sometimes many years trying to defend it.
Wisdom from our elders would tell you that while you may not like that opinion, what another person thinks or expresses, it is their opinion and really none of your business– move on. Wisdom from our elders would tell us that while our heritages are quite different, what we need to remember first and foremost is that we are all AMERICANS. Wisdom from our elders would tell us that if we keep legalizing substances and behaviors that alter our consciousness or are unproductive, we will not be able to make progress as a society. Wisdom from our elders would tell us that if you are a Wall Street banker, or an auto mechanic, and you commit a serious crime you should go to jail. That same wisdom would tell us that our founding fathers did not intend our government to be a country club where our representatives spend their entire adult lives in comforts that most Americans can only dream of, and then retire with a ridiculous pension, when the founding fathers meant being a representative government was similar to military service, you serve 4-8 years and then go home and be productive in a real profession , and be grateful that you were allowed to serve. This is what the wisdom of elders is about.
This” wisdom of the elders” more or less boils down to the following, if we continue to do what we have been doing and getting unsatisfactory results, we will continue to get what we’ve always gotten. It really is just that simple, we need to seek experience and wisdom instead of hot air and promises, and unproductive government and government officials, and attitudes and morals that change quicker than a newborn’s diaper, or as one of these” Elders” recently said to me;” The more I look at this country now it reminds me of the Mafia with two exceptions; the Mafia has rules and enforces them, and it makes a profit.”
Related links : http://theweek.com/articles/462230/how-elderly-are-treated-around-world