Forgotten People: Bias Toward the Older Person

Psalms 71:9 - Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth.

Our culture worships youth and vitality. Strength, youth, beauty, and energy are the standards by which we measure the worth of people. Poor or wealthy, if you are young and able bodied, you have the edge.

Is it a symptom of our own slanted and distorted values?  A century ago and more, elders lived with their families, died with family clustered around, and in the process taught much to their descendents.  Everyone seemed to recognize and value the truth of Psalms 71:18 , "Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto [this] generation, [and] thy power to every one [that] is to come." Now, even churches value only the young and some churches are even targeting a totally youth-centric congregation. Who is there to show them God's strength and power?  Who to show them the wisdom of years?

Somewhere along the way, we eased them out of our lives into 'institutions'.  We became more self absorbed and in the process excluded the wisdom and dignity of our elders from our lives.  We forgot the wisdom of Proverbs 20:29 - "The glory of young men [is] their strength: and the beauty of old men [is] the gray head."

We became distainful of their frailities, impatient with their slowing gait, irritated by their experience, silenced the wisdom that would have served as our check and balance to avoid dumb mistakes, and resentful of what they represented as shadows of our own creeping mortality.

In the present, in our so sophisticated and worldly society, the bigority and prejudice of the elderly continues to grow.  "Ageism" is like racism only predicated on age.  Where once society said 'don't trust anyone over thirty', the present reality is that if you are older you are discriminated against merely because of the natural condition of age.  The irony is that many of those people faced with this truth had themselves chanted and repeated that dictum of not trusting those over thirty. Now, there are some chickens that have come home to roost!

The elderly, senior citizen, golden ager, the new "fifities": whatever they are termed represent a significant junk of society.  They are better skilled, have more experience, more education, and wisdom than probably any generation before them and yet they are not wanted. Employers see them only through the glass of increased health costs, shorter career time, more training, or a dozen other excuses.

The truth is that they are biased against the elderly, the mature, and the physically challenged.  They represent what they do not want to face....everyone is going to grow old, weak, and slow.  So they run faster laps, have that botox treatment, get a younger wife or husband or lover, increase their risky life to feel the rush and the buzz they associate with their younger self.  

As morals collapse and society becomes more relative in its ethics questions of human worth are becoming more fragile.  Abortion has already paved the way for looking at life based on issues of convenience, quality of life, and control.  Ethicists are already arguing for applying those same criteria of abortion up to and including the years post-birth!  Is it too long a distance to looking at end of life issues the same way?  You are no longer a productive member of society and so here is your pill to end your life.  You no longer qualify for the expensive health care needed to keep you alive and so here is your ticket to the next life.  Who decides when you are no longer a viable contributing member of society?  At what age will they apply these criteria?  Will they too become flexible?  Will decisions about life quality see young people crippled by accidents unable to fulfill the life quality criteria or bean counter cost effectiveness lists?

Atrocities begin among forgotten people who have no voice: the pre-born, the infant, the elderly, the terminally ill or handicapped.  The flexible standards and ethics of a society, freed from any moral absolutes about the value of life or the nature of existence, are free to do much evil in the name of science, progress or social improvement.  Look to Hitler, look to the eugenics movement that spawned Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood, look to all the ethical relativity growing in our midsts.  

Forgotten people - the elderly now but tomorrow they may be the homeless, the handicapped and....you.   

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