Tuesday, September 16, 2014

honor the elderly

Pope Francis has announced that he will celebrate a Mass in St. Peter's Square on Sept. 28
to honor the elderly -- "part of his long-standing belief that old people shouldn't be shut away in retirement homes but should be cherished for their wisdom and experience."

Surely there are cultures that honestly do honor their elderly, but it certainly is not the custom in a lot of western societies. So, while the elderly may take some solace from the pope's suggestion, still there is the invariable return to the same ol' same ol' ... lonely, weakened, ignored, victims of a younger society, etc.

Around here, one of the things that crosses my mind is that the cherishing of wisdom and experience needs to find its own roots -- within the elderly person who might otherwise feel ignored and cast aside. 

This is no small requirement, but I simply do not see another way for such cherishing and wisdom to take credible root. Relying on others for such cherishing is like waiting for the sun to rise in the West. 

It is possible to shame others into better behavior, but as a long-term strategy, this technique is bound to lose traction.

1 comment:

  1. The family that was once guided by the paterfamilias is now guided by the sharp cookies of the market place. We speak of reverencing the aged, but rarely get in the way of their being warehoused. They no longer pay taxes or run out and buy new gadgets, so their sunset contribution is a return of their pension into the hands of corporate retirement and nursing home facilities. One's last contribution to society will be measured in the expense of internment.

    In modern society, all things worth measuring are economic, the gains and losses of investment, the cost of storm damage, the debits and credits of corporatized society moderated by corporatized government.

    The family is the remnant of tribal structures that once measured their strength in the well being of their members rather than the wealth of their rulers. And this remnant is a convenient way of organizing living arrangements during formative years until the species becomes tame enough to embrace a creche structure raising genetically modified workers.

    We honor the past as we march with glazed eyes into a future out of our control. Wisdom would turn us away from this adoration of wealth that would crush all opposition. Wisdom would be to value humanity more than spread sheets.

    But wisdom is old and dying while the future is young and growing. And as history reports, growth will top out and crumble, and the wisdom of the family will rebuild from the ashes. Wisdom will be ignored until the mistakes have played out. And then, as an old friend once said, we begin again.