Thursday, March 3, 2011

Life Lesson - Contemporary Living: “Olders” vs “Elders”

I grew up in the era, 'you got spanked'. My mother wasn't the type to kneel down and talk to me in a hushed voice. She didn't try to negotiate with me or lovingly tell me what was wrong. She was the type to smack you then tell you what you did wrong.

With all that said, I grew up with “Respect your elders” as my worldview. I wasn't involved in 'grown peoples' conversation. I didn't “talk back to someone older than me”. I didn't dare say anything about them especially when an adult was around.

I knew to feed them. I knew their life stories would help me along in my life. I knew that because they were old, they knew something.

Needless to say, as a young community organizer I discovered in this great big world not everyone has the same value system. Not everyone is taught the same lessons.

My story:

I was recenly elected as co-chair of a community group. My co-chair was an elderly woman. She had done her work in community. She fought the good fight.

This elderly woman was horrible to me. She would belittle me. She would public humilate me. She made it her task to let me know that I was the wrong person to lead the group.

In one of my crying jags, I confided in an elder. This elder, I respected. She of course wanted to 'whup some ass' but after she calmed down. She told me something that I will never forget.

“Some people are just old.”, she told me.

She went on to share, “They don't know their job is to teach the next generation. They don't know their job is to bring them along. They hold onto a time that has passed when they were the ones who knew how to get things done. They are not wise enough to know, it's time to pass the torch along.”

I was dumbfounded. What? No one told me this. Was everything I got my ass kicked for a lie?

She stated, “You are a young man now. It's your time to know that. There are olders and there are elders, you figure out the difference.”

Present day: I still give reverence to people who are older than me because they have lived. They have survived the onslought of crap we have to just to get by here. I am the first to help out when I see them in need.

Don't get it twisted tho'. I've learned that there are people who have lived a long while who are just 'old'. They will throw down like they are 20. They will act a fool. They are still holdin' on...

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