As we start a new year perhaps one of the things we should be doing is developing a new respect and appreciation for the elderly in this country.
We live in a world where their opinions are denigrated as “out of touch”. They are the “old white males” or “ women who never had a real job”. Previous cultures cherished their elder populations for their experience and wisdom and the sacrifices they made for family and society. Their knowledge of history and tradition was integral to the welfare of the community.
Now they are widely discounted as burdens. One of the drafters of the Affordable Health Care Plan recently actually had the audacity to write a lengthy piece in which he advocated that our country would be better off if citizens just killed themselves when they reached age seventy-five so they wouldn’t be such a weight on society. And many in the media totally ignore our seniors because they don’t buy enough “stuff’ to be considered a worthwhile advertisement segment.
Perhaps these views shed a little light on why our culture is gradually imploding.
Too many in our population are without the benefit of the guidance and love that comes with a cherished familial structure. As a society we make the same mistakes over and over because we lose touch with the history and the traditions that were so essential in our development. We no longer honor those who have made the sacrifices and worked to make this country what it is.
I have worked with the elderly for several years ( and am gradually becoming one). I have spoken in a wide variety of community and retirement centers. I am often amazed at the perspective and common sense that many of them bring to discussions. They have run great corporations, taught our nation’s children, fought on the beaches of Normandy, and often taken a lifetime to provide values and love and attention to their children.
I wrote Remainders (Riding in Boxcars, 2006) after visiting one of these centers. I was overwhelmed by the beauty, love and intelligence that seemed to rest just below the surface of these citizens. Their bodies were worn but they offered so much from within if someone was willing to look past the surface.
It is a shame that we waste such a wonderful resource.
Glenn K. Currie
They wait for their
Ready to be opened.
To share secrets
Fresh and young,
Now, burdened with age.
Cloaked in the dust,
Lined up on shelves.
Beneath their covers.
In restless desperation,
The beauty within.