Friday, August 7, 2009

We live in an era that does not value elders

Elsie Hambrook A Woman's View

Once you begin to notice, it is astonishing -- and shameful -- how often we disparage older people.

We routinely read headlines like "Move Over Boomers" and "Should Older Workers Make Room for the Young?", whenever media has interviewed someone whose motivation to help the young is impaired by their lack of imagination and lack of respect for human rights.

The entertainment industry regularly goes for cheap laughs by portraying seniors as universally slow, out of touch and worthless.

Organizations will pretend bringing in "young blood" is a substitute for good management and ensuring a creative mix of youthful energy and mature experience -- everything new is made from something old.

We fret about what seniors cost society, sending public slings and arrows about them being a burden on younger taxpayers, forgetting that, while seniors' use of public programs may be greater than youth's, government revenue from seniors is several times that from youth and they provide financial and in-kind support to their children, grandchildren and their community.

Some young people, made bold by society's denigration of everything old, cry out for those over a certain age to "move along." Activist Robin Morgan famously told young women who protested that her generation wasn't passing the torch to "get your own damned torch. I'm still using mine."

To worship youth is one thing, to persecute older age groups is another.

Our society will not be mistaken for one that respects elders.

In a society such as ours, "elder abuse" -- abuse by family and caregivers -- can flourish.


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