I’ve just been thinking, as I’ve been talking to people, reading, and watching TV shows, that the way we represent the elderly is so different now.
Before, in my parent’s generation, even if you didn’t agree with said elderly person’s views, you still respected them because they had lived a lot longer than you and knew a lot more than you did about life. You respected them. You held doors open for them. You smiled and waved and listened to their stories. Because they have lived for so long and deserve rest and respect.
Now? My generation? The elderly are wrong and prejudiced, biased and close-minded. Ridiculous and foolish. Fool hardy and unimportant. They have no place in this “changing world” and they’re labeled as “too religious” “rude” “out-dated” “racist” and all these other names. It makes me want to cry.
Because they deserve respect. Because they’ve lived for so long, and been through so much, and the majority of my generation just refuses to except their views or listen to what they have to say. We generally don’t even like visiting the elderly anymore, because we don’t want to be old.
But is that such a bad thing? To be old?
Can we not respect the views of the generation before us? The people who’s blood, sweat, and tears has made way for us? Who’s sacrifices we are now reaping the fruit of?
Is that not worth a visit at a nursing home? Isn’t that worth opening a door? Are they not worth listening to stories about grandkids and smiling at them and letting them know you care? Letting them know that they aren’t invisible? That someone appreciates what has been done?
We should be ashamed. We should be so, so ashamed of how we’ve treated these amazing people who have been through life and know, oh how they know, what we’re going through.
I visited a nursing home with my family a little while back, and I wanted to cry and hug these people. Because they just… looked at us, and they smiled, and they hugged us and touched us and just were so, so beautiful. They were so beautiful.
Light was in those old eyes and wisdom. And loneliness.
The old want to see the young, to remember what it was like back then. To know that there is another generation to carry on their legacy.
In America, especially, we want to be our own person, to be completely different. We are the only thing that defines us, we say, we are different, we say.
No, I say back, smiling with tears in my eyes, no. We are carrying the wishes and the loneliness and the burdens of the previous generation. We are carrying them on our shoulders.
The old and the young, they used to be together, the young doing what the old could no longer do, and the old telling the young their mistakes so the young would not do what the old had done wrong.
But now we are separate. So, so separate. The young, though it does not know, longs for the old to help guide it. The old, longs to feel useful, longs to help, but instead we stick them away so we can not see their wrinkles and their elderliness.
No. They are not ugly. They are so, so beautiful.
So beautiful and I want to walk into a nursing home again, and see every one of those amazing people who walked the earth before I did, and say thank you. And hug them. Tell them they are loved. And listen.
Listen to the stories of the elderly, for they will serve you well.
So go, go and hold doors open, give hugs, smile, listen to long stories, but above all, respect them. Even if you don’t agree, even if you think they are so utterly foolish, respect them.
For they are your elders, and they have been walking this earth long before you and deserve that much from us.