Trust30 Day 1: Ageism

They’ve given me fifteen minutes and a keyboard.

Idiots. They have no idea how foolish I can look in fifteen minutes.

To begin –

We waste age.

Illusions ingrained by social messaging permeate our culture. Social, political, economic, religious – every aspect of our timid existence dims beneath clouds of delusion. Social-programming paints belief on a foundation of idolized youth and fear of aging and death. Media and dogma reinforce fear with hope; hope we avoid appearing aged; hope and promises that we transcend Death.

Make no mistake. We will age. We will die. Deny this simple truth until the eleventh hour when nothing more can be done. It matters not. You will age until you fall into darkness. Only in darkness does aging cease.

Ranking differences between young and old, putting one above the other, sets the stage for social folly. Fear of aging prevents transition of middle-age roles into old-age roles. At fifty, we avoid the question “Are we ready to be sixty.” because we tremble at the thought of sixty. We do not spend time preparing ourselves to become elders.

The young justifiably perceive the powerful-old as barriers and the subservient-old as over. Not because the old lack assets to share but because the powerful-old refuse to share and the subservient-old do not know what to share. Our culture places little value on lessons learned and less value on passing our wisdom to the next generation. Instead, old-timers, clinging to the past, demand obedience and subservience of young-adults condemned to eternal childhood.

Peter Pan never threatened to take over the corner office.

Trying to avoid being over, old-timers cling desperately to achievements of time past. Defying reason, they refuse roles as mentors. The old push the young away hoping distance will delay advancing generations; generations that must replace them. The old who hold power legislate young adults to children, and deny these children of advanced age liberties inalienable to young adults.

In our society, the old feel material goods, a trivial value relative to life lessons, enough to give back. In return for loans, cash and promised estates parents insist on obedience, dependence and obligation.

Our society refuses to nurture a concept of transformation from learner to teacher – the natural journey from naive, insatiable curiosity to vessel of wisdom; from questioning and study to teaching and coaching.

Old adults blame the young adults.

“The young do not listen.”

Why should they? Old adults ask for obedience and respect not because they’ve earned it but because they are old.

“We did everything for you.”

Before we ask the young to listen, we need to make room for them to get comfortable; let them sit in our chair, take our desks and occupy our offices. The young want to get on with their lives. We need to let them live, make decisions, succeed where they succeed and fail where they fail.

At sixty, we come to a time for sharing life lessons. Share, not tell. If someone listens, good, they listen. If not, oh well, not. Share without expectation. The next generation, with or without our input, must make their own mistakes. Our role is to point out the rough, not to swing the club.

Failing to point out the rough spots, we fail as old adults more than young adults fail by not listening.

Fifteen minutes and the keyboard are gone. So much more to say. No more time.

This post contains a thing I wrote as part of Trust30. Trust30 is a 30 day writing challenge that has something to do with Seth Godin. Click on the banner at the top of the page to learn more.

I do not usually participate in challenges. Why I signed up for this one, I cannot say. Maybe I thought it would end writers block.

Now I feel committed. And as I write this, I am a day behind.

The first day results disappoint me, which is why I post a day late. I had to get the courage to post this (writers block?)

I easily found something to say but the way I said it, bah. The challenge asked for a story. I started with story language but quickly regressed to philosophy, opinion and public whinging.

Treating it as stream of consciousness, in contrast to essay or narrative, makes it less embarrassing.

ageism forms the basis of this post and though I feel I cheat to do so, I have a few additional points to make about ageism.

Ageism is real. More real for some than others.

I indulge in an ageism of sorts with this post. I have the right. I am old.

Ageism differs from career path to career path. In politics ageism seems absent. Given the state of politics, some ageism might be desirable.

I hear peers complain about ageism and agree it is not fair. But it was not fair how easily, as clean shaven white guys, many of us climbed the social ladder when we were young.

We fail to create ourselves into good examples of older adults. Our society does not nurture a good model for relationships between young adults and old adults. As a result old adults cling to youth, try to protect roles assumed in middle age and refuse to mature into mentors, gurus and sages. Ageism results. This, I hope, came across in my story.

I hoped to get across the idea that people older than 55 have value, but the value might not be what they think it is. I am not sure this came across.


© 2008-2012 Chromia Poetics