Our government, our parents, tried and true institutions that were the foundation of our society were ignored and in some quarters, reviled. They had been defined as “the system,” the enemy. We, trapped within the confines of our tiny inexperienced and undeveloped minds, were sure that we had all the answers; how wrong, how sad. What a waste of a generation.
I have finally reached that point in life where I get it. It being why one should respect their elders; the truth in the concept is evident in virtually all tribal cultures to this day, and was until the sixties, practiced in western society. As I talk with my two now adult daughters and my teenage son, I am amazed at how few questions they ask fall out of the scope of my knowledge and experience. The tables are turned, I am now a member of that “older” generation; one of those that historically earned the respect of those younger.
The dictionary definition of WISDOM is: 1. The ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting; insight. 2. Common sense; good judgment. 3a. The sum of learning through the ages; knowledge. b. Wise teachings of the ancient sages.
I think they dig a little too deep on that one. My definition of wisdom is simple and to the point:
“Wisdom is knowledge gained through observation and experience.”
A lot of the wisdom I have gained can be expressed in a few short phrases:
“Screw me once, shame on you, screw me twice, shame on me.”
“Assume nothing, trust no one, not even yourself.”
“That which does not kill you makes you stronger.” Nietzsche (very old, but very true)
“I hear, I forget; I see, I remember; I experience and I understand.” Confucius
“Life is what you make it.” Art Erickson (my father in law)
“You are above average, you can achieve whatever you want.” My dad, and most dads
The part I really didn’t get about respecting your elders when I was young, is that a lot of that knowledge gained comes at a price: Grief, pain, loss and at times, suffering.
Part two of the price is aging; that slow process of decline in vision, hearing, strength and health. I am still young enough that I am in pretty good shape, but the word “arthritis” has become part of my daily vocabulary.
So in the long and the short of it here is the message: My generation squandered the opportunity to learn from the wisdom of others, we forged ahead, often recklessly, without the benefit of the experienced guiding hands of those who had lived before us. What fools we were. It took a long time to unlearn those lessons of the sixties and come to this simple undying truth:
“Respect your elders; they have for you a wealth of knowledge, respect and love. Through you they achieve immortality as they impart those precious bits of themselves to you.”
So sorry for the long delay dad, but I get it now. I finally get it.