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America is pushing aside the elderly

Out on a LimbRoss L. Talbott Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

One of the questionable directions our culture here in America is taking is the act of pushing aside the elderly citizens. It probably started with the trade unions developing a way for older workers to retire and open up jobs for the upcoming younger workers.We then moved this principle into the broader society by instituting Social Security. This great socialist plan might have worked and become self-sustaining in a few years as they promised. Its downfall came when our politicians realized they could raid the fund. Now, if you’re lucky, Social Security might pay your rent.To get people to retire, you first must convince them that they deserve it. Just visualize sitting on a beach all day, living in a motor home, playing lots of golf and all the TV you can watch. Wouldn’t that make you fulfilled and give you a sense of accomplishment?The second condition for retirement is to convince them that new technology has made them obsolete.To an extent, that might be true since introducing computers to kids in grade school has brought up a generation of tech whizzes.Another motivation for encouraging or forcing retirement is that usually the new replacements come in at a lower salary. That’s why in many professions such as teaching, the administration will buy you out for early retirement. Your replacement is way down the wage scale.As well-meaning as this whole idea is, there are some major drawbacks. The younger generations have come to disrespect older people and to develop a considerable arrogance about their own abilities. There is a great resource of experience and wisdom that is lost when we sideline our older citizens.There are many things that are learned by experience, and wisdom comes along with that experience.For instance, a young firefighter who has taken wildfire 101 becomes overconfident and often a danger to himself and others. An old farmer who has spent a great deal of his life burning ditches and fields is worth 10 trainees, but they run him off.There is an incredible resource of wisdom and experience which is present in people older than 60. Turning them into nonproductive consumers is of questionable value to our culture.The fragmentation of our families has caused them to lose the great resource that a living grandparent could be. Older people in a family are a great stabilizing influence and can, in addition, provide protection and wisdom. Also, words cannot express the value of love in the relationships.Another painful consequence of this societal process is that older people often lose a sense of purpose and value. For instance, I knew a man who retired from a managerial position. Within a year he was working two jobs.If you are retiring and find you can’t sustain a full-time vacation on meager Social Security and the drain of medical bills, there is a solution. Serving others brings psychological and spiritual satisfaction, not to mention physical healing.Contact the local scoutmaster and offer to help with camping trips. Ask the chamber of commerce if they have opportunities.Most important of all would be to serve your local church. If you have made it to old age, you are poignantly aware how quickly life passes. If there is eternity ahead, you can’t afford to be wrong. Do you really care if there is a heaven and hell?Spend your days giving people hope. What greater purpose could there be?Ross L. Talbott lives in New Castle.


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