Going to bed at night "shuddering inwardly" feeling the pain from every exploding shell is something only a pilot directly sitting in the path of enemy gunfire could feel (Voice From the Stars, T. Scotland). That pilot I refer to is my truly inspirational 88 year old grandfather.
Many of us know and have known truly amazing men and women who have now become the seniors of our community or have since passed. It is these people who have already lived the bulk of their lives, experiencing things I never will and who have a wealth of knowledge and understanding I will not have for a very long time (if ever).
I guess many of us take or have taken the elderly, and even our own grandparents, for granted. After all they eat soaked muesli for breakfast, drink lots of tea, never leave the house without their tablets, take ages to hear anything and respond loudly with something embarrassing, drive slowly, always have strange remedies for illness, flock to the shops on a Thursday and tell really long stories that you never understand. What is so great about someone who does all that?
As well as being irrelevant, these aspects are generalised and criticising of the very people that have held our society together and have made the country of Australia the place it is today. It is time to focus on what is truly amazing and wonderful about our seniors and to value what they bring to our communities and to our lives as individuals.
Knowing my grandfather has changed my life. He is a remarkable and astonishing man and has committed a half a century of his life to serve the interests of others, in war and peace (Foreword, A Voice From the Stars, T. Scotland). He has my utmost respect, along with many others like him who I do not even know, simply because they have 'lived'.
The bible commands respect for those who are older. "Get up from your seats before the white-haired, and give honour to the old, and let the fear of your God be before you: I am the Lord" (Leviticus 19:32 Basic English Version).
I do believe respect for the elderly is getting less and less. People previously looked up to them as someone who had been around the block a couple more times and therefore they held a certain level of knowledge in their life banks that society thought of as useful (http://hubpages.com).
Now my question is when did this stop? It seems every generation that comes up in the world has less and less respect for our elderly. What is wrong with society that this is occurring?
Nature herself teaches us that age demands dignity and honour. The older the redwoods, the more majestic. The older wines and cheeses are, the more they are praised and honoured for taste. Should it not hold true that the older a man, the more he is to be appreciated by others. I am convinced that young people are missing one of the greatest opportunities available when they do not get to know the elderly and associate with them. All too soon these towering pillars of faith and wisdom will pass from our midst and the loss will be tremendous (www.bible.ca).
My desire is to see the older generations in our community embraced, even if it is just a quiet conversation at the shops, giving them a hand to cross the road, or a wonderful phone conversation with an older relative. I don't know about you but I want to soak in all the Godly wisdom and amazing stories of the past as much as I can, before the chance is no longer there.
Laura Veloso is a stay-at-home mum on the Central Coast of NSW with three little boys under the age of 5. Laura has done short term missions to Bangladesh.