Ageism–Coming Full Circle
I believe that one of the hardest tasks we have as human beings is to see ourselves in others. I have heard it said that our natural tendency is to fear in others what we fear ourselves. I have also been taught that fear is the basis of all prejudice. If this is true, then we must realize our mortality in the aging since as a society we seems to toss them aside. Henri Nouwen set out in his book, “Aging, The Fulfillment of Life”, to convince society that, “we will never be able to give what we cannot receive. Only when we are able to receive the elderly as our teachers will it be possible to offer the help they are looking for. As long as we continue to divide the world into the strong and the weak, the helpers and the helped, the givers and the receivers, the independent and the dependent, real care will not be possible, because then we keep broadening the dividing lines that caused the suffering of the elderly in the first place.” Henri continues, “the most important important contribution to the elderly is to allow them a chance to bring us into a creative contact with our own aging. Just as the handicapped should remind us of our limitations, the blind, our lack of vision, the anxiety ridden, our fears and the poor, our poverty–so the old should remind us of our aging. Thus we can be brought in touch with the fullnessof the life experience by an inner solidarity with all human suffering and all human growth.” Henri also states that denying the aging process can cause “great harm” to the person not receiving this truth. This blog will continue to study other philosophies on aging, please add your thoughts and personal experiences.
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