Honoring our seniors

John Hatcher's picture

You would not treat your Coke stock like it. You would not treat your Microsoft stock like it. You would not even treat your personal laptop like it. But, far too often we treat our most valuable assets like leftovers in the refrigerator and we can’t decide to throw them out or heat them up one more time.

Now, these valuable assets are the real stuff. In addition to true fiduciary worth which many have (some don’t), they have accumulated knowledge, wisdom, and understanding that politicos of the likes of George Bush could only wish.

I speak of something I will be one day. I speak of those who took care of your stubbed toes as well as your run-ins with the law. I speak of our senior citizens, or better, senior adults, since some of our seniors have not made it to citizenship yet.

Somehow our culture needs a major shift. I don’t know when we started treating our precious seniors as senile and irrelevant when a genuine conversation with most of them reveals that they are neither intellectually challenged nor unaware of what’s happening around them. Just because their bodies can’t make a decent 100 yard dash or their hearing and vision are not what it was, we perceive them as walking around in some sort of cloud.

As one who has talked to seniors regularly for more than 30 years as a caring professional, I tell you they know lots more than we — especially children — have given credit. Most of the time their mind is as sharp as a tack. But since we live in a culture that defines worth and importance by appearance, we treat them as children, not seniors who have a thing or two to tell us.

I hear that the Asian culture values their seniors much more than we do. Even Native Americans treated their seniors with respect and dignity. However, westernization of the world hardly leaves any village left uninfluenced. More and more the trend is to treat seniors like everyone else.

The middle of The Ten Commandments has something for all of us: “Honor your father and mother.” There is no time limit on honoring. It’s a life-long thing. “Honor” essentially means to treat your mama and daddy with value and worth and dignity. No talking back. An adult child has no right or place to talk back to his or her parents. If facets of your relationship with your parent do not entail “honor,” then back up and start all over.

The two words that should be removed from the adult child’s vocabulary are, “O mother.” It’s demeaning and inconsistent with honor.

The Fifth Commandment concerning the honoring of parents comes with a promise — the only commandment as such. The promise is that you will live a long and good life. Honoring parents will do more for a healthy, long life than a brisk three mile walk four times a week.

“O God, forgive us how we treated our parents. Give us another chance to get it right.”

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