Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Why do we deprecate well-aged wisdom?

In other societies, in other times, age was considered the hallmark of wisdom. Elders were sages, respected advisors, those with the experience and clarity to foresee the effects of choices.

Families and communities were extensions of loving counsel that surrounded children with guidance wherever they went. Mothers weren't burdened as isolated fonts of everything to challenging offspring. They had help. They could seek advice and support. They didn't have to muddle along in silence, doing the best they could, watching as the world chipped away at a child, trying everything they knew in ignorance of potential consequences, hoping love would be enough to stave off adversity.

Too many children these days suffer in silence until too late. In their limited understanding, they take on adult choices without seeking guidance. They think their difficulties are unique to them, unshared by anyone else. They hide their pain or self-medicate it, without knowledge of possible alternatives. They foolishly think they are protecting the parent while making life more difficult for everyone.

Living life brings experience, understanding, and insight. A child has little; a parent has more; an elder has a far greater reservoir. And yet, we as a society expect each generation to relearn life's lessons without the benefit of the hard-earned wisdom of our seniors. We deprecate the time-worn as old-fashioned and substitute fresh "expertise" and "scientific" research, and so we miss so much of ancient truth.

To paraphrase Lya Luft in Losses and Gains, the rooftop of our maturity is a person's crowning achievement. We as a society need to remember this and open our hearts to each other, encouraging respected elders and delicate children to have opportunities to share wisdom and progress together. We need to offer parents ways to receive wise counsel as the gift it is. We need to relearn how to honor aging and consider elders' wisdom well-aged advice.

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