This post started out as a comment on this rant over at my friend The Ranting Monkey's blog. As it grew into a rebuttal speech I realized that it more appropriately belonged here. Warning, Josie is fired up and climbing on her soap box now...
As the years pass, the times when I take issue with your blog posts have become more and more rare Dearest Monkey, but this one raised my ire and I'm here to tell you about it. I know you can handle a little dissension now and then. :-)
When I first saw your post yesterday morning, the title flew all over me, 'cuz as you know I'm 58 closing in on 60, and that makes me pretty damn old, or at least I feel that way most days - especially working with people who are 25 years younger than me, and dealing with more of them most places I go. I'm pretty sure you weren't referring to me, or at least I hope not, but... Old People Suck? Really? Do young people suck? Short people? Fat people? Green People? Gay People? Hairy People? Bi-polar People? Get my drift? Where does it stop? GENERALIZATIONS SUCK! So do stereotypes and the discrimination that generates from them.
Let me tell you about "young people"... some of them, not ALL of them - they are rude, spoiled, foul-mouthed, self-centered, demand immediate gratification, have a sense of entitlement, and have not been taught that they have a role and place in our society. Need I go on?
Societies from the most primitive to the most highly civilized hold respect for elders as an important part of their culture. So you have a much better take on old people than all of them, huh? The ever growing belief in our country that "old people suck" is what leads to their disenfranchisement, being devalued in the family, in the workforce, and in the community, and being shuttled off to a home somewhere to wither and die, often without the care or visitation of family members. Gone are the days when learning about life from grandpa or grandpa was considered a rite of growing up.
But then again, old people don't know much, right? Not any smarter than anyone else, just a bunch of dumb asses. I agree with you that assholes can be found in ANY age group, including old people. The number of years lived has nothing to do with it. Some people assholes truly their entire lives, while some nice people turn into assholes as they get older, and some assholes mellow into nice people as they get older. It's the generalizations that bother the hell out of me, because BLANKET STATEMENTS LEAD TO BLANKET TREATMENT!
I've lived long and hard and there isn't much I haven't done, 90% of which falls into the dumb ass category, but do you know what does come with being old? EXPERIENCE!!! Yes, sometimes some of us actually do learn a little along the way... and have a few words of wisdom (if I dare call it that) to share with the headstrong, "fingers in ears...lalalala" generation! I know full well that young people don't really want to hear what their parents, other adults, and elders have to say, and that's their prerogative - I didn't way back then either. But Lordy would my life have been easier if just now and then I'd considered their input for a moment or two! I don't have to tell you what would have happened if I had tried that fingers in the ears routine with my father!
I agree with your point that trust must be earned. Additionally, trust is extremely fragile and can be very quickly and easily destroyed by careless words or actions, or just plain stupidity (it's that being an asshole thing again). BUT - and this is the most important point I want to make - you are looking at the whole thing backwards! In your way of thinking, everyone should be treated with suspicion until they prove they can be trusted. That's much like the concept of guilty until proven innocent, and it's a very negative way of looking at people and life! It is my belief (maybe only mine?), that people should be given the benefit of the doubt... respect first, trust first, love first, help first. THEN, if they do something repeatedly that proves that such treatment is unearned, maybe it is time to revisit how you think, feel and act toward them.
Yes, you were taught to address adults by Mr. or Mrs.______. So was I. Was that so bad, really? So terribly cumbersome? The purpose it served was to establish boundaries for our familiarity and behavior. We grew up knowing that adults were in charge of the situation (or were at least supposed to be), and we were expected to do as they said in school, in church, in the community, and in our homes. Now we have children in school who make teaching damn near impossible because of the in-your-face attitudes/show no respect conduct they've been allowed at home. If you have a young person living next door, chances are they have little concern about driving you crazy with the volume of their music and friends coming and going at all hours of the night, and you don't want to even get me started about young people in the workplace! It all boils down to that one simple word that is no longer taught in most homes... RESPECT!
On this issue we clearly stand a good distance apart and will have to agree to disagree, Mr. Monkey. Treating others with respect is a way of life, and a good one; it's the Golden Rule concept and, when it comes to old people show twice as much respect, because buddy, hopefully they've earned it!
I ask you to do one thing, Monkey Dearest - please print a copy of your post and put it away someplace safe. Pull it out and re-read it on your 60th birthday, and see how you feel about it then. I strongly suspect your perspective will be somewhat changed. Yes, respect must be earned, but before it can be earned it must be taught, and practiced, and lived!
Ok, I'm done fussin' n' fumin' - stepping down from my soap box now :-)