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How do you treat old folks?

One of my millennials gave me a calendar for Christmas that contains daily insights about life.

Millennials don’t see things the same way Boomers do. I know that comes as a shock to you, lol. But one of the interesting things about the differences between the two generations is the overlap of certain perennial values, even though the insights arrive in variegated packages.

Take old age, for instance. Please take it, lol.

The message on my calendar for this weekend says

He who always greets and constantly reveres the aged, four things will increase to him: life, beauty, happiness, power.


This is one of those “backward” sayings. It is reminiscent of the biblical quote: “Honor thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long upon the land…”

The backward part of both sayings is that the reverence shown old timers doesn’t extend their lives, it extends yours.

Think about it. If you want to live longer yourself, show respect to old people.

I know of few principles more contrary to our I-want-what-I-want-and-I-want-it-now culture than the notion of doing something good for somebody else, maybe even somebody who has no way to repay your kindness.

But that is what kindness is all about. It seeks nothing in return and revels only in having done the right thing to a person in need.

Ageism is rampant in our society, in the workplace, in nursing homes, in discussions of issues and values.

This doesn’t mean that old folks understand the things that matter better than younger people. On the contrary, they often are mired in the old ways and thoughts that have brought us to these difficult times.

Neither of the sayings above suggests we should honor the thoughts or ideas or political views of old people. Rather it is the person we are to revere, not for what they think or represent, but for the essence of their humanity.

Now that I think about it, it appears that both quotes could be changed to say: “Honor your fellow human beings that your days may be long upon the earth.”

Show respect to all people, even if they are old.

What a novel concept.

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