The elderly in America often are not shown proper respect
BY BILL SHERMAN World Religion Writer
Monday, February 11, 2013
2/11/13 at 6:36 AM
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My wife and I re-watched one of our favorite old movies the other night, "Moonstruck," about an Italian family in New York City.
In one poignant scene, the wrinkled patriarch of the family was upset, and someone asked him what was wrong.
"The old are not wanted," he said.
It reminded me of one major difference between American society and much of the rest of the world - respect for the elderly.
In many nations, and earlier in our own history, old people were esteemed, not just for the experience and wisdom they had garnered over the years, but for the recognition that their sacrifices and contributions over a lifetime built the foundations upon which we now live.
In Japan, Respect for the Aged Day is a national holiday.
Years ago I spent some time in the Congo, Rwanda and Burundi, and everywhere I went, as we sat down to a meal, or a meeting, everyone in the room turned silently to the senior member of the gathering, who stood up, cleared his (or her) throat and made a short, or not so short, eloquent statement of welcome. Only then did the event begin.
It was a beautiful thing, an acknowledgement of respect.
What a contrast to most American houses I have seen, where at family gatherings adult children and grandchildren go non-stop from the moment they hit the door and never pause for a moment of respect.
Disrespect is rampant in America.
New York City public schools this school year eased their policy on swearing. Students can now curse at their teachers without being suspended.
One blogger, young no doubt, said the elderly are disrespected because their generation invented the atom bomb and the technology that is using up Earth's resources. They are seen as "the Last Vistages (sic)of the Piscinian Age, during which the Uncompromising Religious Dogmatic Values of Catholicism, Islam, and Judhism (sic) were Entrenched," he wrote.
Right. And one of those dogmatic values of Judaism and Catholicism is the fifth commandment: "Honor your father and your mother."
Bill Sherman 918-581-8398