A Tradition We Could Learn From

Old Chinese man
Old Chinese man

Our kitchen calendar reminds me it is Respect for the Aged Day in Japan, celebrated on the third Monday of September every year. The most elderly are honored and featured in the Japanese media. What if we were to adopt such a custom in the West? In honor of this, I am reposting an earlier blog called Senioritis of a Different Sort. Enjoy:

I’ve been musing a lot lately on the way we view aging and the elderly. Perhaps this is because I’ve been in a number of conversations lately where I was the oldest person present; at one time or another comments were made implying either pity or embarrassment for me, as if my age were a disfiguring disease.

This is something that varies from one culture to another. Most of us are aware that in Eastern cultures the elderly are treated with more respect than in the West. Their life experiences and lessons learned along the way are considered, of all things, an asset and not a liability. It is a given in Asia, as well as in most African cultures, that a family will care for aging family members in return for having been raised by them. In the West, this is so often absent that the death of several French senior citizens due to neglect during a heat wave a number of years ago brought it painfully to the light.

I’m not naive enough to believe, however, that the grass is COMPLETELY greener on the other side. Many families, while providing food and shelter for their aging parents, secretly resent that their resources are being drained or that their parents are ungrateful. That said, it would not hurt us, in the West, to learn something about honoring our elders and the road they have walked. For my part, I’ve resolved to wear what is left of my gray hair as a badge of honor.