How to understand the past
How to understand the past (even if it was before your time)
Most people, regardless of age – probably have some kind of memory of a parent, grandparent or other relative telling them “well, back in my day, it was like this…” (or some version like it).
They (you) probably also recall thinking something along the lines of “F-off, what do you know?”
And finally – many people get to a point in their lives, long after they shrugged off anecdotal advice without concern – and say “Wow, I should have listened to that golden knowledge!”
Why isn’t wisdom from our elders taken more seriously?
Frankly, we understand why most “advice” from older people – especially in today’s fast-paced technological age – is probably disregarded.
Most of the time – it is because advice from one era doesn’t include the new tangibles that are present in the next generation or two. The old people “just don’t get it.” And that is understandable. It’s likely that way because the elders do not offer any courtesy for what they DON’T know about current times. And vice-versa. A roadblock in both directions.
The conversation should be a two-way street. This is why most kids end up having a stretch where they hate their parents immensely.
If people can just bridge that gap more effectively, right?
Previous experience IS beneficial – in the right context
This is what gets us as we get older. We’re kind of regretful for lost opportunities. No blame or fault really – just circumstantial. No one knew any better.
Listening skills were weak. Compassion and understanding take a long time to fully mature. Sometimes never, actually.
If young people took more interest in their elders, and vice-versa – we could have a profoundly more improved society as a whole.
But for some odd reason – in most cases – the generations are kept so far apart – that bridging that gap is most often not attained. And if it is, it’s often too late, or in “retrospect.”
A few things that can be done to fix this quagmire
With enough money and resources, I could probably pen a 100,000-word research article on why this is. But I can’t and I won’t. But I can theorize off the cuff.
Our armchair theory is that the “gap” between familial generations is mostly due to modernity. The new “things” that have occupied our lives.
Think about olden times. Before the telecommunication and transportation (Industrial) revolutions. When families stuck together – often for four or even five generations in the same neck of the woods.
More time was spent “organically.” In person. Between physical people. At the dinner table. In the fields. Working towards something. Such as survival! Together. Keyword: Together. Talking, witnessing, experiencing things together.
People of all ages had almost no option other than TO understand others via basic proximity and cumulative time. Thousands of hours of interaction and shared knowledge.
This was all before the relatively sudden availability of economic ability – as well as the ever-growing availability of “stuff” that didn’t exist prior.
Things like entertainment, gadgets, social venues, and of course – the internet. The number of options one had just 100 years ago is 100th of what it is today.
Listening, caring, interest, and time
No one has “time” anymore these days. Or that is what they like to say.
They don’t have the time to “sit around” and listen to grandma ramble on about her life. Or enjoy a well-told story from their cousin about an old memory or experience. Or put themselves in the shoes of their grandfather who suffered during some economic depression or even World War.
In reality – that is not the case. People have tons of time. They just insist on using their time for themselves and their own interests and endeavors.
Why don’t more people treat those that have lived long before us with more value? It’s almost priceless when you think about it, right? Uncensored, unfiltered, and not editied by someone else who is trying to dictate a narrative of some kind.
Hearing things directly from an individuals perspective is so valuable. Regardless if they’ve flown off the coop or not. There are always golden nuggets to be had.
Doesn’t it make you feel kind of bad if you’ve ever discounted someone who wants to share something with you? Or how trivial your personal needs were that you were willing to forego such a wonderful moment?
Take the time to do it today
If you’ve been so full of yourself and your things for the latter part of your life – perhaps it’s time to reflect a little. Make amends.
Seek out not only your own elder relatives – but anyone else that is getting up there in age. Ask them questions. Discover what they went through. And at the same time – try and explain to them what it is like to be you. The “new” things you have to deal with – that they didn’t have to. Perhaps you can find some worthwhile wisdom in that interaction.
“Respecting elders” today seems to have almost no weight at all. Most people just “Google” everything – instead of seeking out the knowledge of others.
And there is something sinister about that whole thing.