Wisdom of the elders, young people and chaos

If by some miracle I could choose to be young again, I would say ok, maybe, but I would first ask whether I could take my mind back in time with me. Herein lies the conundrum. I really would not have the appetite to repeat all those blunders and having to relearn my accumulated wisdom gained by painful trial and error. I also cannot see how it would give me any greater purpose, or that it would give my existence any better meaning, than that it already has.

Wisdom of the elders

“Listen to your elders’ advice not because they are always right but because they have more experiences of being wrong”

If we are not at peace with the life we have had so far it is far more practical to look at our life from a different angle rather than to live it all over again. Every life is meaningful. It may not however be the meaning we would wish it to have. We should therefore be looking, as an observer, at the meaning of the actual life we have had rather than wishing it to have been different. This would give each and every one of us, older citizens, quite a unique type of wisdom and insight.

The collective wisdom of its elders should be treasured by society, lest the society be condemned to repeat its often tragic mistakes over and over again. As the older people in society we understand the importance of looking at life within a spiritual context. A life not guided by a moral compass can be likened to a rudderless ship in a tempest.

This notwithstanding we know that elders are largely marginalised and ignored by society and that, unlike other species, every human generation learns very little, if anything at all, from the preceding one. It is sad to look upon the upcoming generations as they adore false gods and chase phantoms. It is disheartening for us that young people will not listen to our wisdom born of sacrifice and hardship.

I am talking about life-lessons and not technological improvements. Technology is just a distraction and, too many times, actually harmful. Life is about living it through our senses, through the sorrows and joys, the successes and failures, in our family and our communities, facing good and evil, through the greed and the self-interest, through the betrayed trust and broken promises, to finally understand what really matters. Life teaches us that power corrupts and that absolute power corrupts absolutely, no exception.

A conspiracy theorist might say that societal norms are contrived to marginalise people that, as a result of their long life’s experience, have seen through the falsehoods, deceit and abuses. Another conspiracy theorist might say that older people have survived because of their ability to create order from chaos and that such a skill may not meet the approval of those who thrive on chaos as a means to control others. These statements may sound far-fetched to some, however if one looks at the evolution of accepted societal norms over time you will notice that this is the trend. This is not a good thing.

Wisdom of the elders

As one grows older one starts to feel less relevant as society’s values and norms change at a forever accelerating rate. Meaningless change is a case of throwing away the baby with the bath water. Past values and norms are being considered obsolete solely based on the notion that they belong to yesterday and cannot therefore be applied to today. Rather than understanding that there exists a higher order and a moral code, to which we are beholden across time and space, young people are encouraged to glorify disruption, chaos and entitlement.

I have a few things to say to young people – you are not born into this world with any entitlement. You only deserve something if you have sacrificed something else for it. You can distract your life away, with your head inside your electronic gadgets, but you do so at the cost of your mental and physical health. You have no idea of the price you will pay for giving away your humanity.

To my own cohort of older citizens I say – we are more relevant today than ever before. Do what you can to get this message down to your children and grandchildren.

This article was published in the July 2023 edition of The Senior Times of The Times of Malta

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