I wonder what is going to happen in the next 5 to 10 years regarding technology. It seems we are growing so fast in that regard that we may be able to create anything, and not have to listen to anyone. You see, I find that the more that younger generations are able to create and build businesses, create technologies that radically redefine aspects of life, and find new ways to usurp old ways that we lose something precious. What is this precious thing we are losing, or more so ignoring? The elderly and the aged.
In the Bible study that I attend, I am the only person in that class in my 20’s. In fact I may be the only person in that class under 40! What’s great about this is that I get to sit within a group of people who have seen more, done more, and learned more than I can ever imagine. Some of these people lived in the aftermath, or even through, World War II. They have also seen Korea, Vietnam, the Fall of the Berlin Wall, the Civil Rights Movement, Sexual Revolution, the rise and fall of governments, and the risings and failings of societies. I can hardly think of a better group to sit under and learn from than the generation that lived through the bloodiest, but also the most scientifically explosive, generation in history.
I have had conversations recently with two separate people that are around 70 years old, and the conversation I had with them was quite heartbreaking. It was after a particular Bible study (that I had missed) let out. One of the men there who had been very friendly to me from day one came up to me to say hello and I could tell something was wrong. I had seen him fired up before, but this was different. His eyes were wet. Something was on his mind. So we started talking and he told me that he thought our church should have a formal mentor program!
I thought that this was a great idea, and still do, but that wasn’t what was bothering him. It was the fact that he felt useless. It seems, and these are my words, that the modern, young man and woman is so busy being busy and getting busier that they don’t have time for those who can help them the most. Every time I have had the privilege of chatting with someone who his my senior (65 or older) I find that each grey hair (if they have any left) is a drop of wisdom earned and each wrinkle is a battle hard-fought. Those are badges of honor are to be worn with pride from hard battles survived and pearls of wisdom received. In the same way we would look at a 5 star general in full regalia as a man or woman of accomplishment and respect, so too should we treat our aged that way.
What’s heartbreaking is that sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we treat them as worthless, members of a bygone generation that need to fade to black and leave us alone. We may not say that, or even really feel that way, but that can be how our actions are taken. Now I can’t quantify this, but I can say that, in light of my friend’s 2 watery eyes as well as working in the customer service industry, I can certainly infer this. We may complain that someone older is slow going, but refuse to help them to their car. We may complain that they can’t hear, but then get angry when we have to speak up. We may even get frustrated with them when they get mad at us, because “they don’t understand.” I would say it is we younger folks who don’t understand.
Here is a list of things that I think we don’t understand nowadays, that we could learn from our elderly:
- Work. Of all the men and women I have talked to about this, I have found that they worked their hands to the bone to provide for their family. That’s a matter of fact that ought to elicit a thunderous applause every day. In an age of entitlement, it would be good to remember that they helped build the system we use.
- Commitment. One of my grandparents had a very rough marriage. My grandmother was on some medications that brought on, and in some cases enhanced, mental instabilities. There were periods of time in her marriage that were very difficult. Even after she was off the medication, she still wasn’t the same. The thing that I want to draw your attention too about this is that my grandfather made a commitment to love this woman until death do them part. He made a commitment, or better yet, he made a covenant and vowed never to break it.
- Standards. I have sabotaged high standards for the sake of getting something done, and in all my experiences with people who are elderly, I’ve never seen this to be a trait that is characteristic of them. Quotes like, “If you’re going to do it do it right” or “do it right the first time” speak to this kind of standard and expectation.
So if you’re reading this and happen to be elderly I have a request. Please forgive me. I have been disrespectful, annoyed, and stubborn to listen when you spoke. I can’t make up for every slight against you, but I can offer you a trade to make up for it. I will give you my undivided attention, if you would not mind giving me a kick in the right direction. You could just kick me too. That would be okay.