Elders

I want to revive this blog with some reflections.

The keys to our world today belong to the youth developing the latest technology.  Elders have retirement homes built for them, to live and play amongst themselves.  Our culture looses depth, meaning, and integrity when we relegate the scope and wisdom of our elders to the back halls.  Our culture will maintain perpetual adolescence with this attitude, loosing respect for ancestral precedent and custom, and dishonoring the people who have accrued the most lived experience.

Honoring elders begins with honoring ancestors, from parents on back, and seeking to understand the wisdom of ancestral customs.  Small kids in daycare and retired adults in specialty homes makes little social or economic sense, unless care is commodotized and turned into capital.

The freshness and vitality of youth is necessary, yet so too is the groundedness and accumulated knowledge of elderhood.  When a people who have lived long have learned how to live well, they need and want to share that wisdom, and, like university professors, ought to be respected for their positions to be able to do so.  Space needs to be made for them to responsibly guide their people, rather than pandered to with visions of a second adolescence themselves.  Retirement is sold as a time of long-earned rest and play, as though elders should be relieved to no longer bear responsibilities.  Responsibility equals power though, and power is lost when responsibility is revoked.

The elders’ loss of power is our loss of collective wisdom and communal participants.  Wholeness and healing cannot be achieved for our people in this state, nor can social maturity.  Glorification of youth becomes a perpetual relegation to youth and immaturity,a denial and stunting of needed growth.  This is neither progressive nor advanced.

Traditional cultures honor their elders and ancestral wisdom.  We need to follow this example.

Lean-sa dlùth ri cliù do shìnnsear.

Keep closely to the ways of your ancestors.

~traditional Gàidhlig proverb 

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2 thoughts on “Elders

  1. I think there is a lot of truth to what you say here, particularly the issues of respect and responsibility. I wonder if a problem nowadays is that life has become so ‘driven’ and stressful that older people look forward to a retirement which ‘steps away’ and, in some sense leaves the rest, the younger ones, just to get on with it as best they can. Elders see no guiding role for themselves and the younger people have no guidance and refuse to accept any that is offered. Instead, like rebellious teenagers, the younger generations keeping pushing against boundaries which aren’t there anymore and without them these boundaries behaviour gets more and more rebellious until human society (lacking the guidance of elders) pushes too far and destroys the very ground it stands on.

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    • I think that is a fair summation, yes. My mother has chosen to no longer be an active voter, saying it is for the younger people to decide now. But without the tempering voices of experience to provide guidance, youth only has its own impetuousness to heed and idolize. This leaves our society in a perennial stage of adolescence, with weak roots that cannot properly sustain us. We all suffer.

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