Brian Anonymous
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Elders Need to Follow the Youth and Tell Their Stories

Seniors are often ignored and neglected. What do they have to tell us?

When I grew up I was always told to listen my elders. I’m sure a lot of people are still taught this today, but what have our elders done to deserve our attention? With the changes that we’re going through in society today should this still be acceptable? Traditions change and our world is very different from what it was before. Some of our elders remained silent and were complacent when they saw wild injustices in their lives. To this day some are still withholding their stories. Some of our elders have perpetrated hate and taught it to future generations. I realize that not all of our elders are the same and times were different back in the day. I also know that not everyone can be a superhero, but everyone should at least have a conscience. Change has to start somewhere. We’ve seen a ton of growth in social awareness in today’s youth but this change could have happened much earlier. Maybe it’s the seniors that need to listen and understand the youth rather than the other way around.

Some elders aren’t happy that they’re being ignored. They feel neglected and isolated for a number of reasons. A lot of the youth today don’t follow in the same paths as they did. With changes in technology and societal norms sometimes it’s impossible to even follow in the footsteps of our elders. Traditions are being lost. The older ways of thought are being scrutinized and vilified further perpetuating youth to ignore their elders. New concepts have been brought to the forefront, for example, marriage isn’t necessary an institution that everyone wants to be a part of. The concept of affirmative action may be foreign to some of our elders but a much needed system to help diversify our institutions. Mental illnesses and substance abuse issues are slowly losing their stigma so that people can openly find the help they need. There are so many factors that I could start a whole other article on the subject.

There is a divide in understanding. I find that the youth today is more understanding than older generations. The problem is that older generations tend to get stuck in their ways. An old saying is that they’re too old to change their ways. I don’t think that’s entirely true. Some may be stubborn but the elderly are still capable of changing their minds. My father who is in his late 80s does experience difficulties learning new things. Although it’s hard for him to learn new things he is certainly aware of today’s changes. For an old man he’s surprisingly aware of social changes and seems to be fine with them. I never really ask him about LGBTQ+, racism, and sexism. Sometimes he’ll mention some atrocities that had occurred in the past and certain snippets about how he agrees with certain changes but overall he’s been quiet on some of the social issues that we see in the news today. He of course could be an anomaly.

I’m surprised that there hasn’t been some movement where older generations are coming out and apologizing for what they’ve allowed in the past. Telling the stories that had happened in the past to make it clear what actually happened. The #MeToo movement seems to be only exposing a small layer of wrongs that have happened to people but you never really hear many cases past a certain era. Things in the past weren’t as rosy as people claim them to be. Maybe America wasn’t as great in the past as they claim it was? The stories need to be heard, but our elders seem to be content on remaining silent.

How do we understand people that bottle up all of their thoughts and stories? Wouldn’t exposing these stories be cathartic for them? I realize that it may bring up bad memories for them but it’s probably bad to keep all those things bottled up. A lot of seniors are lonely and have no one to talk to but they have all these great stories (bad and good) but don’t talk about them for fear of exposing true history or bringing up bad memories. Elderly people have goldmines in their brains that the youth would love to hear! The elderly need to get with the times and the youth need to have thick skin if there is going to be any understanding between the two. The stories need to be told in their entirety. Stories back in the day are probably very extreme because they didn’t have the laws and social acceptance that we have today. If our elderly expose the stories of yesterday I really think our youth would give them much more attention and really want to listen to them. What happened in the past cannot be undone but what they do today can help relieve their guilt and shame. The youth would listen and absorb these stories so that the next generation will not fall under the same paths as our elders did in the past.

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