An Old Thought with a Young Twist

This is a continuing verbal campaign to change the name “senior citizen” to “elder.” I like the singular sound of “elder” better than the duality of “senior citizen.” Elder sounds wise to me. Senior citizen sounds Orwellian at best and old at worst. Elders can be primitive, sophisticated, plain or profound. We must listen to them and choose, not silence them.

The native peoples of the world use the term elder as a plateau of respect, honor and acquired wisdom and as a sacred reminder of the ancestral past. Modern society, flooded with its passion for youth and anything new sees seniors as a nuisance and something to tolerate then move aside.

We often hide our elder’s brilliance and accumulated knowledge in the belief they are finished and have nothing more to contribute. We smother their life stories and valued memories into boxed rooms, beds with rails and medicated minds.

Elders are the strata of humanity. They are the human schist of wisdom precipitated into the sediments of experience. Elders have the acquired pallor of experience and the wrinkled rows of worry and the knowing that youth must learn it their own way.

We need to find ways for the young to acknowledge the elder in themselves and the elder to reactivate their enthusiasm of youth. Anthropologist Margaret Mead said that’s the way to have agreement between generations.

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