George Santayana wrote, “Those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” Good advice for the next generation, the youth who can use the knowledge gained by and from today’s older adults to benefit their own longevity.
In fact, young people should respect older adults as pioneers who are braving trails in humankind’s new longevity. And when elders relive and repeat the virtues and travails of their aging experience, youth should be appreciate this rare glimpse into what the future holds for them.
Admiring the aging process is sort of like observing light coming from the space distant stars once inhabited in the ever-expanding universe. Looking back in time, tracking the light we now see helps us understand the past and gain perspective on our future.
Santayana may have indirectly prescribed the essence of generativity, the philosophy and practice of one generation supporting another. The value of life experience is a two-way street.
There’s no disputing that with aging comes a certain degree of memory loss. In fact, when an older adult scolds a too-confident youth that, “I’ve forgotten more than you know,” there’s a bitter reality to the sarcasm. But through inquisitiveness and patience with older adults, young people can at once show their respect and learn about the past and future – and what to repeat and what not to.
“In America the young are always ready to give to those who are older than themselves the full benefits of their inexperience,” Oscar Wilde observed. Truthfully, whatever the experience, when it is offered and accepted by humble minds, lives are enriched.