Here’s a thought: Elders want to be seen as people.
Don’t we all want to be known this way? As a young African American adult I can identify with this viscerally. It’s sad how desensitized I am from the quickly averted glances, the compliments on how surprisingly “articulate” I am, or even the go-to expert on black culture. Our society programs seamlessly the realm of otherness into our vernacular, lifestyle, and attitudes. In this category of otherness we distance ourselves from the humane and are more willing to pass judgements on identity, ability or personhood.
“Most people are not able to look on each other as human beings, and in spite of everything, to treat each other that way. Until this happens, freedom is only an empty word.” – James Baldwin, The Price of the Ticket
First, I encourage you all to read Baldwin’s writings – when you do, you will understand how much LIFE is just in his work… ugh (Okay, I’ll calm down now). Second, the universal truth shouts to us that fair treatment to some is not equality, equity or freedom. We hurt ourselves and damage our humanity by doing anything less than the standard of care we require for our own. When we commit crimes against the human soul; Black, Elder, LGBTQ, and all, how can you expect there to be positive change?
The same way we are all human – despite our life experiences, gender, or sexuality – we all grow and age. Would YOU want to live in a nursing home? Would YOU want to be seen as disabled? Would YOU want to be seen as them, or a resident, or anything less than who you are? People… When did we become so unloving?
It’s not an unfair question – we are so consumed with fortifying our comfortable realities rather than breaking down walls. We expect others to agree with our ideals without conceding that we must first hear and accept theirs. So I ask… WHEN will we stop? I will.
I choose to look you in the eye and smile.
I will listen.
I will hear.
It is a daily action we must choose to be mindful of. Unfortunately, many of us fall into the practice of selfish living – I include myself! It’s almost second nature, but the beauty in being human is that we do not have to continue to live in such a way. Let’s try to be more mindful this week… Just take that step – I’m sure you’ll like the way it feels.