Sadly, reverence for the elderly is sometimes in short supply in today’s youth-oriented culture. Because they may be slowing down and having more difficulty moving around, there is an assumption that what elderly people have to offer is also in short supply. On the contrary, they have the most to contribute.
When I was about 30 years old, a very wise, older friend of mine gave me one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard. She told me that as I went through life, I should seek out friends who were younger, the same age, and older than myself.
“Younger people,” she said, “will remind you that there are newer and better ways of doing things.” She went on to explain that they would also challenge me to be more spontaneous and shed fears that I might have developed from knowing a little too much. “Those who are your contemporaries,” she surmised, “will be able to relate to you. They will offer practical help to help you manage the ups and downs of life.”
Then she paused, as if to make the last point really important. She told me that those who were older would be able to provide wise counsel from a much broader, more realistic, and usually hopeful perspective. Of the many experiences I have treasured in my life, having older mentors to advise, guide, and encourage me has been something I am truly grateful for. Because of this, I want to make sure that my children and grandchildren fully understand the importance of respecting the elderly.
Passing Along Wisdom to Younger Generations
Now, as my grey hairs and wrinkles become more prominent, those who mentor me are among the elderly. I value some of them as my leaders and others as people I’m called to care for. I think it’s important for all of us, including our children and grandchildren, to embrace and respect the elderly during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. When I received that piece of advice many years ago, I didn’t know that it was not only a good idea but something that I was called to do by God.
Scriptures tell us in Leviticus 19:32: “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.”
We become wiser as we age, in most cases, because of the many things — good and bad — we experience in life. And we learn much that we need to pass on to younger generations. In Titus 2:4, older women are instructed to teach younger women what they know.
Sadly, respect for the elderly is sometimes in short supply in today’s youth-oriented culture. Because they may be slowing down and having more difficulty moving around, there is an assumption that what elderly people have to offer is also in short supply. On the contrary, they have the most to contribute because of the number of years spent on this Earth. Also, as we turn our focus to the absolute sanctity of the life of a preborn baby, we sometimes forget that every human being is a precious and valued gift from God, regardless of age. So we need to embrace the elderly, to learn from them, and to care for them as needed, in order to show them the respect they deserve.