Saturday, September 19, 2009

Some Uncomfortable Thoughts about Elders

This is the tranquil view from my window on a recent weekend. However, I have felt less calm since I got a disturbing phone call yesterday. It seems that the son of one of my fellow residents took issue with the commentary written by one of our black residents in the September issue of our newsletter, The Clarion, and wrote an angry letter to The Clare's acting Executive Director.

In my view, the commentary was liberal but inoffensive, and it was accompanied by an invitation to submit opposing views; still, the letter writer stated that he didn't want to find this newsletter at his mother's or father's door again. That's all right with me, but I was led to some uncomfortable thoughts. Assuming that this complaint originated with a resident rather than his or her son, have elders become so set in their ways that they cannot abide controversy? Can't they accept opposing views, or anything they don't agree with? Whatever happened to our democratic urge to fire off letters to the editors when we want to criticize something? Do we have at least one closet racist, or at best an arch conservative, in our midst?

I was reminded of TV images of seniors protesting imaginary "death squads" in the health care debate and those praising Medicare while objecting to all government involvement. Whatever happened to logic and fairness? While I have found Clare residents to be generally intelligent and fair-minded, I was caught off guard by that letter. How I wish that the resident involved would identify himself or herself to me and/or write a scathing criticism of the article.

I am a supporter of freedom of the press, including senior newsletters, and this incident, plus the earlier censorship fiasco, made me wonder if we elders are supposed to be sheeplike followers of whatever is the majority position or the senior residence management's view? Without free speech and a free press, life is not worth living, and that is true for elders as much as it is for the young. Let's have intelligent controversy involving logic rather than anger! As long as we have the ability to think, let's do so, and let no young people be surprised to discover disagreements among seniors. Assuming that we all are --or should be-- alike is very dangerous.


Anonymous said...

Very troubling -- not the least the anonymity of the critic. Agree with your follow-up that it's political vice racist. It puts me in mind of the recent tempest over our President speaking to schoolchildren! The divisiveness in our society is frightening and sad.

Lydia said...

Sorry you had this kind of a stir. I'm glad you addressed it with such honesty and grace. That should be the end of it, but Americans (of all ages) have become so darned mean-spirited that the community may likely have to contend with something along this line again.
Take it with a grain of salt; it's all anyone of that ilk deserves!

mo said...

As a millenial I find that our issues are very parallel w/the
elderly. We are often looked at as a sheep like generation. I believe in logic over anger. Great Post!!!