The Sovereign Mind

Free thought on politics and real life

Old People Are Stupid

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… or so our society thinks.

When John McCain was running for president, he was criticized for not knowing how to use a computer. Al Gore was recently caught on tape telling a group of youth, “There are some things about our world that you know that older people don’t know.” And then there is this cartoon. The political viewpoints expressed here are not important to me for this subject, but what is important is that clearly old people are considered second class citizens in our society.

But isn’t that just the way society goes? One generation passes the baton to the next, and only the younger generation has the ability to look at problems with fresh perspectives and solve our problems. One might argue that this view is not intended to demean older people, only to reflect a shifting of responsibility from one generation to another. But before we jump to the conclusion that young people are always the answer to our problems, let us examine this question: Are young people always right?

In many cases, they are. One can point to the example of the equal rights movement in the United States, which is the favorite example of those who assume young people are right. However, there are also counter examples: Socialism and Nazism were movements led primarily by the younger generation. There is also the hippie movement, which arguably was a bad thing, or at the very least produced some very negative consequences.

Let’s contrast the view our society with the Hindu tradition of respect for the elderly. I don’t advocate we adopt the Hindu customs, but neither should we be so arrogant that we refuse to learn from other cultures. It may be just a dream, but there is definitely something attractive to me about the idea that our goal in life, when we are young, is to learn as much as we can about the world, and then, when we are old, we can impart that knowledge to the younger generation. There are obvious benefits to that situation, as opposed to the reverse. While of course I don’t think that is a plausible goal, it’s certainly worth thinking about.

We learned in kindergarten that there’s a reason we have ears and eyes in twos, but only one mouth. Maybe it’s not a coincidence that older people tend to lose their hearing and sight. Perhaps we should remember that, including me.

Starting… now…

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Written by Mike

February 9, 2009 at 10:24 pm

Posted in society

Tagged with , ,

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