Foreword: Trying to articulate this one has been a proper bastard. Every time I think I’ve got an angle on it, it spins round and fires Righteous Blocks at me.
This year, I hit thirty and RocketBootDad will hit sixty. Some people don’t like reaching these ages with a zero on the end. RocketBootDad and I are of a mind on this. His take on hitting these milestones is that he is the age he is; everyone else is either older, or younger. Or, least probably, the same age.
Obviously, this type of epiphanic statement can only come after decades of experience. The children may be our future, but the elderly are our past, our memory, our conscience. They have seen it all come and go; the current generation really have seen it all. In fact, those alive today have witnessed some of Man’s greatest achievements, interspersed with our most heinous crimes.
The fact that old people have more time and experience means they know most about life and how to live it. They would love to pass on this knowledge but the young do not want to hear it. Elderly people are not valued in most Western Countries.
It seems to be a common factor that older civilizations and societies that exist in the Arab and African do value their elders greatly; more so than in First world countries, excepting Japan. Since practical skills are more applicable in Arab and African countries, and the adults are the most adept at these skills, the youth understand that to survive, it is imperative to respect and learn from ones elders, rather than cut a new furrow and reinvent the wheel themselves.
Essentially what I’m driving at1 is the question: Why does the World work such that the people with the knowledge cannot pass on this knowledge? Why, in the main, are young people dismissive of their elders when it comes to imparting knowledge? Why are we resigned to taking five steps forward, four steps back?
People prefer to find things out for themselves, learning things through bitter or painful experience, for it is only through experience that knowledge is truly learned. One can read all the books in the world, but unless the world is experienced, one has no real-world hooks on which to hang the book-learned knowledge.
I can’t help feeling, despite having been the same in my youth, that not learning from our elders means that their life’s work, their brain, will have been for naught. They spent every waking moment learning and experiencing, and then the next gen comes along and starts all over. As I seem to be repeatedly saying at the moment, history is what made the World today what it is and we who live in it what we are. Old People are History that can talk.
The only solution that comes to mind is that people should make an effort to change society for the better, to hardwire their experiences and knowledge into the fabric of society. That way, each new generation will pick up these advances and drive them forward. This is why I think blogging is such a great idea. I’m writing my memoirs as I go, not waiting until my twilight years when events are hazy and lessons distant.
So, welcome to my part of the attempt to make a difference, to ensure that the lessons learned by this generation are not lost. I hope you’re all taking notes. Come the time of reckoning, there will be a test.
1 …with my synaptic satnav on the fritz…
Sci Fi writers have postulated a contruct into which the memories of dying indivuduals are loaded on their death, their collective personality becoming a cultural memory which then serves as the conscience of a society.