The Elderly

Older people are more likely to live in Shouldland. Is it due to their age or is it a generational thing? I would say that it is a bit of both.

As people get older, they tend to become more fearful, and as a result take comfort in the shoulds. The shoulds are based on fears. Newer generations definitely don’t believe in the old fashioned traditions nearly as much, for example gender roles, types of employment, relationship roles etc.

Each generation starts out wiser than the previous generation started. Not that young people are smarter than old people, just that the base that they start from tends to be from a more enlightened position. This is a positive thing for the future of our planet and the human race.

As far as I can tell, in the old days Shouldland was all the rage. Everyone lived there, with maybe a couple of enlightened exceptions. Think about the typical life that most people lead: the man should (i.e. would) go out to work, his wife would stay home, clean the house and raise kids. I use the term ‘man’ and ‘wife’ to highlight the sexist language of the time.

I can’t help but think that so many of our senior citizens come close to the end with any unresolved regrets? I personally know of a few myself. They played by the rules, did what they were supposed to do, and for what? They missed out on so many things that they wanted to accomplish, and now get a little regretful about it, maybe even a little bitter that others don’t seem to be following the rules that they had to.

Social researcher Hugh Mackay spoke at the University of Western Australia last year (2011) on the clash between the generations. Himself now a member of the older generation within our community, Hugh gave an insight into the younger generations resistance of the rules passed down to them: “Intergenerational hostility has been with us since the beginning and there are good reasons why older people are inclined to be sceptical, even a bit hostile, about younger people. We envy them because they have the whole thing ahead of them. Their greatest crime is they refuse to take our conventions more seriously”.

Our elderly citizens need to be respected for what they have accomplished, both as a generation and as individuals. But it’s not a one way street. They need to respect the younger generations for what they are doing, and in the process they might just learn something and find a little peace and happiness themselves.

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