I appreciate and want to associate with people who have empathy. This is why I have a low tolerance for intolerant, stupid or defiantly-ignorant people, particularly elderly people.
You stormed the beaches of Normandy, liberated two concentration camps, but can’t wrap your mind around a transgendered person? That means genocide makes more sense to you than someone who isn’t hurting anyone. You were around to lock up all Japanese Americans in internment camps, “Greatest Generation”, but can’t understand that persecuting an entire group for the actions of a few might be wrong-minded? Get it together, elderly. “You’re 80 and haven’t learned anything from multiple wars and civil rights movements? Yikes. Can we put you in one of those homes, away from the rest of us so you can wait to die without poisoning the well of people who would like to mentally evolve beyond the 1950’s?”
Imagine all of the amazing/horrifying/disturbing/life-changing things a person sees in 60+ years. Yet, to remain an old, crusty, bigot, that person had to spend that time not learning, crystalizing their beliefs in amber like the mosquito from Jurassic Park. If a person doesn’t learn over a lifetime that they don’t know anything and have the beautiful opportunity to continue learning, we have ourselves a bad old person.
The older I get, the less I know. By that I mean the less I am sure of. I view people with strong opinions on the big stuff with distrust. I don’t think we should have certain certainties on faith and politics; I think we should be open-minded.
Elderly people somehow get a pass for hate-speak and bigotry. “Oh, my racist/bigoted grandpa? Well, screw it, his thoughts and beliefs are too calcified.” So, you’ll teach Meemaw and Peepaw how to use email, but expecting them to adjust their language ever so slightly is too difficult?
There are communal organizations filled with the elderly supporting various civil rights causes, people of all ages involved in PFLAG, the media shames those who publicly use hate-speech, but elderly people get a pass, why, because they’re about to die and we shouldn’t bother? “Well, Gam-gam is 78, she only says the ‘n-word’ because that’s that’s the era she grew up in.” The last time the n-word was acceptable by anyone outside of the Wu-Tang Clan was well over five decades ago, you have a defective Gam-gam.
Elderly people, of all of us, should know that they have an infinite universe of nuanced thought has yet to come into their sphere of understanding. The more years you have on this earth, you should have developed enough knowledge and empathy to be able to adjust your thinking. If they’re not curious about the world or things that may be a bit confusing without turning to hate, that’s baffling to me. I am no longer going to give retirees the “benefit of experience” because, simply surviving for a long time shouldn’t give you a magical pass for being dumb. Expect more out of your old person. And if you are an old person, I implore you, use your experience to be an affective old person.