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Cultural Bias

Excerpt from Daily Cures, Wisdom for Healthy Aging by Connie Mason Michaelis

There is a bias against aging in our culture. In other civilizations, wisdom is believed to belong to the elders, chieftains, the crones, and the aged.

A place of honor is designated to the elders. The brightest and most beautiful feathers are reserved for the oldest chief. The old women’s sacred tent is considered a vital source of wisdom. In many Eastern cultures, the elderly are revered, and after death, the ancestors are worshiped. Words like matriarch and patriarch are powerful designations. Our culture is obsessed with youth! Recently my husband and I were on vacation, and we were having technical problems with our cell phones. We looked around the room for the youngest person there and asked for help. The young man had the solution in a heartbeat! It does make you feel old and stupid, right? For obvious reasons, we admire youthful savvy and expertise; at the same time, our elders deserve respect and admiration.

If your only exposure to the American population were from television, you probably wouldn’t think old people existed. Advertisers depict older people as youthful (with a tiny bit of silver hair). With a little cosmetic surgery and pharmaceutical support, we stay young forever, right? In our culture, we are in complete denial about aging. In other cultures, it is considered a blessing and an honor to grow old. Elders are fountains of wisdom and life experience. It’s not easy to change cultural bias, but each one of us needs to be sensitized to it. You will begin to notice it in print advertising and on TV. You can become alert to the concerns of the older generations. We need to recognize what a priceless resource Elders are for the world we occupy. Although they may not be able to help you with your computer questions, I guarantee they can give you advice about what is important in life!

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