Help the aged, ´cos one day you'll be older too

16 days ago

          

The sign of a healthy society is when that society cares for its elderly.

 There is much said that is negative about the catholic faith and arguably it has perhaps done more damage in society than it has good. It´s difficult to say and one I do not wish to discuss here. But what I will say, as someone who was raised in a catholic home and went to a catholic school, I understand only too well the scars left by the burden of guilt that is placed upon the shoulders of every child in a catholic community. However, nothing is only black and white, and so it can´t all be bad. Indeed, for there was once practice that I was taught at my catholic school that is difficult to find fault with. All children of all ages were encouraged to actively go out and help the elderly in their own particular  neighbourhood. And to actively make this as part of their daily life long routine.

              

Every Friday after lunch, there would be an "assembly" gathering of all the pupils of the entire school. The local priest would come for his weekly talk and at the end he alway remind everyone to seek out and help at least one elderly person over their weekend.  This was not for any finical reward but I suppose for a spiritual one. 

What is interesting to me now is that in fact a high number of pupils actively did this. Far more than you would perhaps believe. One weekend I remember seeing a well known bully called, John Brome, helping an elderly lady in her garden. Age ten at the time, I was astonished to see that this brute of a boy, whom I feared as some kind of monster, would possibly use his time and effort and to help another. 
             

I also made helping the elderly part of my own daily life routine. Not for money and not for the benefit of my soul either. And here´s the thing, I was too young to understand such concepts of the soul, and the idea of money back then had not entered the mind of the public consciousness as the main motivation or goal in life, as it has today. 

So why did I do it and John Brome do it? 

Ive thought about this a lot and the conclusion I came to was that I simply accepted it as part of life. I believe all the child at my school did. It was just part of the social deal. This was just how it is. You help the elderly. You were young and strong, the elderly were old and weak and so they needed help with things. It was natural. After all, everyone had at least one grand mother or one grand father. Perhaps to a child´s  mind this was an easy concept to grasp.

And so every saturday I would go around and knock on doors asking if there was an "old" person who needed help. Usually I did not get past five doors before someone was offering me work. One time I helped this lady carry out a load of boxes, another time I did her shopping for her. Another lady I helped by bringing down something heavy from upstairs because it took her "too long" to go up there; "My bones just arn´t what they used to be." she said. 

One of the strangest ones I remember was to help get a trapped bird out of a house. As soon as the door opened a white haired very old lady grabbed hold of me and pulled me inside.

                          A Swallow had flew in through her living room window and was now flying all over the house. Every time the bird flew around she would go into a panic. I must admit I found this rather comical as I could not for the life of me understand why it was so frightening. I got the idea to use a blanket and hold it up as a kind of wall. I would then walk towards the bird and sort of push it in the direction of the kitchen door, which we had opened.

                

After a couple of failures it worked. I must say I thoroughly enjoyed the adventure and afterwards the strange but kind lady gave me some tea and cake. We had a lovely little chat with her asking me about my school and things. After that I would wave to her as I pasted her house on my way to school. She would stand at then window and wave with a big smile. She died about a month later. Ironically this little episode led me to take an interest in birds and read tons of books on the subject with the result of me joining the RSPB (The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds). Funny how positive actions lead to positive outcomes.

 I can't remember when or how long, or if it was to do with the fact that I abandoned my catholic faith, but I gradually stopped the practice of helping the elderly. I don't know if the catholic faith still continues this practise of encouraging the youth to help the old. Now as man entering middle age, I don't see much of it happening any more. I don't see children knocking on doors to see if an elderly member of their community might need help. I am sure there are children who do this but I bet it is the exception rather then the rule. I hope I am wrong, I can only speak from my own perspective, as can anyone.  However, I believe times have changed. Perhaps the truth is it is far too dangerous these days anyway? Perhaps today a child is more in danger of being dragged inside a house by a pedophile rather than by an old lady who needs help with a trapped bird. And perhaps an elderly person would be too frightened to open the door anyway for fear of being mugged or even murdered. 

                                   

By the time I had reached the age of sixteen I had already heard of an elderly lady being attacked in the apartment just below my grandmothers.This poor lady was in a wheelchair and had opened the door thinking it was someone come to read the gas meter. Two despicable youths pushed her inside and threatened her with a knife asking for money. She was found the next morning by the postman. They had left her for dead. The emergency services were called and she was rushed to hospital. Covered in bruises from being beaten she courageously gave a description of the heartless duo. Teenagers aged about 20 with one of them being a girl. Sadly she died a week later. 

                       

I am no psychologist, but if this true story does not make you feel to the stomach then I suggest you seriously need to see one, and fast. Anyways, my grandmother was so upset by this as she knew this lady well and often chatted with her. Well they were neighbours right? My grandmother began to believe she might be next and became frightened of being alone and so my three years older brother decided to move in with her for a while and this was a great comfort to her.  

One weekend I came for a visit to my grandmother and my brother. I had planned to stay over night and get the bus home the next day so I could have "proper time" to help my grandma. I just wanted to help in anyway I could. I ended up doing a load of shopping, something my brother hated doing.
That night I slept on the sofa but during the early hours I was awoken by the sound of light tapping. It was so light you could hardly hear it and this was probably why it woke me. An atomic bomb could go off and it would not wake me, but the sound of a dripping tap was guaranteed too. I got up and went to have a pee. Standing in the bathroom I was still half asleep and was trying to ignore this irritating noise. Suddenly and abruptly I was brought to my full senses by one of the window arm locks springing free. It kind of popped upwards in a spring like action. I looked up and quickly realised someone was trying to break in. The window had been left ever so slightly open, so little that the gap was so small that only the thin blade of a knife could squeeze though. This is what I saw. Using a knife they had been tapping against the arm lock and now they had succeeded in springing one free. I held my breath and listened. I could hear two people with one of them being a girl. And they were clearly young. I could also see their blurred shapes moving around through the frosted glass. You can probably imagine what was going through my mind?
                                    

There were two arm locks on the toilet window and now they were busy working on the second. I went out to wake my brother. He always boasted that he was a light sleeper. Well on that night this was proven to be bollocks because it took some effort to wake him. However, once he was awake he quickly understood the situation and went out to have a look himself.. There were no mobile phones back then, my grandmother could not afford a phone, we were on the second floor and so were pretty much trapped. I was not going to take any chances and so I went and got a hammer.
I went into the bathroom and stood on the toilet seat. I could hardly breathe with fear. I was now literally only 30 centimetres away from the criminals. The plan was for my brother to shout as loudly as he could in an attempt to scare them off. But it was too late, the second arm suddenly lock sprang free right in front of me. Now the window was free to open. It did and a hand came creeping in. Well to this day I do not know how I managed to do it but I whacked that hand as hard as I could with that hammer. My brother started shouting "get out of here, we have phoned the police.Go one get out of here you cowards". I don´t think my heart as ever beat faster.
                                                      

My brother and I did not sleep a wink that night. We decided not to tell our grandmother about the incident not wanting to upset her. Amazingly she had slept right through it.
We went to the police station the next day and I was somewhat nervous I might be in trouble for using the hammer. However the policeman said it was the very least they deserved and that in fact it would help with finding them. I could not figure out how. Later that day two detectives also came to view the crime scene and managed to get fingerprints. The outside window ledge had not been cleaned and a clear image of a hand had been pressed into the damp dust. This led to the capture and arrest of a teenage couple who had been terrorising the elderly in the area for months putting and end of terror for the elderly in the community. The police made it clear to my brother and I that if I had not awoken that night we would surely been murdered in our sleep. It was at that point I understood that within a matter of six years of my own life, from age ten to age sixteen, things had dramatically changed. Young people had not only stopped helping the elderly but were now murdering them. 

How and why did this happen? 

I guess we all have theories but personally I blame the rise of greed and selfishness which is fuelled by the rise of  the belief in money. "Im all self cos it´s good for my health" , seems to be the motto of modern times.
   

Coming from a career in advertising I have the right to also blame the rise in marketing science. Suddenly the young were in and the old were out. How often did you see elderly in adverts on TV? The young had a future and could buy things for years to come. The elderly had no future and were tight fisted old farts. How nice!
When I accidentally wandered into the marketing offices of  an agency I was working for I became awakened and horrified to learn and discover the despicable tactics used in order to get people to part with their cash. There was a distinct lack of any moral fibre in the practice of certain kinds of marketing, at least from my perspective.
I know it is often over said, but I don't know how it can be denied that there has been a dramatic and gradual moral decline throughout the so called civilised world.
            

In my view, if you want to judge a country on how much or little it´s moral values are, then you only have to look at two things. How it treats its elderly and how it treats its children. Life is long and life is short depending upon what age you happened to be. But one thing is pretty clear, the two periods of life that are the most important are our early years and and our late years. At both these times we need help to live and help to survive. We all know this. So if you are young reading this remember that you will also be old one day. I know it might feel like light ears away, but it will happen to you. No one in the history of mankind has every escaped age so don't go down that road called "denial" and kid yourself that you will be the one person who will stay young forever. You wont. And when you are old, believe me, you will want a society that cares for its elderly because now you will be part of it. So help the aged, ´cos one day you  you'll  be older too. And if the world is heading for an abandoning of having any form of religion as a way to keep its moral backbone, then perhaps we need another way to keep us steady and true.
But worshipping money is certainly not the answer.

                     

Some believe in this thing called Karma. John Lennon believed in karma. The concept that your actions and intentions, good or bad, come back and repay you in an equal portion. A good deed done to others is returned to you at some point. As does a bad deed. The young despicable couple who were terrorising the elderly section of the neighbourhood that my own grandmother lived, certainly got instant karma, well one at least the one who was the owner of the hand that came though her bathroom window on that cold autumn night all those years ago. I am sure when he felt that hammer come crashing down on him he regretted choosing my grandmother as a target. The couple had gone to the nearby hospital and stupidly given their name and address. They were caught a week later. The detective informed me that I had broken two fingers of his hand and it had need stitches. He made a joke suggesting I I take up carpentry. He also smiled when he told  that it was somewhat painful for the guy when he had his fingerprints taken.  
         

 I have long past stopped considering myself as a catholic but I still believe in many christian values. Such as forgiveness. But I must admit I  find it difficult to forgive anyone who abuses children or the elderly. If we are decent then there is nothing surprising in that. But if one day the catholic faith disappears from the world then I would hope that perhaps at least society chooses to adopt its practice of encouraging the young to go out and help the elderly. Not for any reward of a playstation game or for extra pocket money. But because it is natural.

     

So help the aged, for one time they were just like you. And perhaps one day when you are very old, a bird might fly into your house and you feel helpless to know what to do. And suddenly from nowhere a young boy knocks on your door asking if you need any help.  


 What I write is merely my own thoughts from my own life experience and existence.
I Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and a warm welcome back to you next time.
                 

Authors get paid when people like you upvote their post.
If you enjoyed what you read here, create your account today and start earning FREE STEEM!
Sort Order:  trending

So much heartfelt truth and experience, here.

Somewhere along the way, we lost sight of connecting with each other in a meaningful human way. Growing up in Denmark, I remember one of the social catchphrases from grade school (late 1960's, early 1970's)) was how we should all "be relevant to each other." Somehow, that has stuck with me as a core value...

Perhaps I was also aided by the fact that I was raised largely by older people. My grandparents were old when my parents were born, and my parents were old when I was born. It still surprises people that my paternal grandfather was born in 1871... 146 years ago!

Sadly-- from my perspective-- the world lives in a state of fear. You've been in marketing, so you understand the idea of "trading on people's fears." On the surface, we sell you "solutions" to get you away from your fears... but the deeper implication is that we first must KEEP you in a state of fear... fear of aging, fear of illness, fear of destitution, fear of abandonment, fear of DEATH.

In the age of consumption, aging has become something to FEAR... "Unless you buy XYZ, you'll end up in a packed old-age pensioner's home, eating cat food!" Fear, fear, fear.

Although I am (chronologically) a "Baby Boomer" I always experienced my reality as being one of the first Gen-X'ers. Even before I left home, I knew I was going to be part of the first generation that would be worse off than their parents. Which, indeed, turned out true.

I live in the US, now... which is a cesspool of fear and selfishness. I watch the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer... and any semblance of what used to be "the middle" slowly evaporate as people can less and less afford their lives. I watch people grow older here... and where as "quality of life" has made them healthier, it has come with the price of (often) never retiring. You have to keep working till you die. My annual "income statement" from Social Security has for some years now included a statement that I am "advised to consider alternative investments to help secure retirement income." which is another way of saying "don't count on getting any of this." My wife is 52; I am 57-- our "preparations" for retirement are a shift into forms of self-employment that are phsyically unchallenging, so we will be able to keep going, once "retirement age" comes along...

Meanwhile... we continue in a state of FEAR... fear that leads to greed.

It's funny/sad... when someone "hoards" old newspapers or soap powder at their house-- in quantities far beyond what one person could ever need, we call it a "mental illness" and get them help. Yet, when someone "hoards" wealth and assets in quantities far beyond what one person could ever need, we call it "success" and point to them as "examples" of what we should all be striving for. Isn't that just a little bit SICK?

·

Always a quality response from you my friend and one I place a high value on. You have so much wisdom to offer and consider you a great asset to the Steemit community.
I hear and feel your sentiments so strongly in the words you write. I love the phrase "be relevant to each other" - what a beautiful thing to say for a young mind to digest and from now on I will pass that on to all I meet.
Cant help feeling we have gone backwards - I have family in Denmark and my wife and visit every year. Over the past decade muslim immigration has shown to be having an effect. I have witnessed this myself. But I do not know how much of this original sentiment of "being relevant to each other" remains. Personally I love the danish folk and simply love visiting Copenhagen. Every time I visit a cafe I always end up having a wonderful conversation with a local guy. There does seem to be this caring for each other in the main fabric of the culture.
Therefore I can see how american culture must feel quite alien to you sometimes of not all the time.. The bases of it is built on pure greed and corruption. It came home to me this just recently after I watched the film "Gangs of New York" about life during 1930s america in New York. I could not help thinking that it told so much of why the US is the way it is today. Life is hard so be hard. Dont rely on anyone, dont trust anyone and money is all . When you sow seeds like that, what kind of tree will it become?

Really interesting thoughts, @arthuradamson. Starting from the title, I'm with your in these thoughts. I stopped to consider myself as a catholic many years ago, but I still believe in some christian values. To forgive, sometimes, it's really difficult , but I admit that for me it's really impossible to forgive someone who abuses children or the elderly. Forgiveness is a great value and I admir who can always do it, but sometimes I can't.

·

Totally agree with you silvia, I am actually a very forgiving person but by far it is the most difficult thing to do is to forgive someone who harms those who the most vulnerable in our society. The children and the elderly. But I want a forgiving world of course. Such things are not easy. Thanks for the reply.

There is an even bigger dynamic at work here.

Remember the years of the latch-key kids?
Kids who aren't cared for, when they grow up, don't really care for others.

Another piece is that the baby boomer generation was all about independence. Where family ties were forgotten. I myself have met all of my relatives only once.

And the worst piece: The baby-boomer generation has sucked up all the wealth, and the generations after it has nothing. And now, the baby-boomers expect Social Security to pay them their money that they paid in.

Well, Social Security has always been a ponzi scheme. Where those paying in now are paying for those retired now. During the baby boomer's working years, they were paying about 10 for 1. Ten workers for 1 retired. Now it is less than 2 workers for 1 retired.

The generation that got the most benefit out of govern-cement over spending (aka tax the children for it) and who have most of the wealth (houses, stocks, bonds) are now retiring. They are demanding their Social Security from a group of kids who are facing huge unemployment numbers are much poorer job prospects. They are also banking on selling their assets, but this is all going to come crashing down.

The newer generations do not have money to buy anything. They cannot buy the houses, stocks and bonds when the boomers start selling. They cannot afford to pay the Social inSecurity.

And so, not only have we abandoned the elderly for all the reasons above, the harm that the baby boomer generation has caused is going to come home to roost. And it will not be pretty.

·

You make powerful arguments which are difficult to deny. I often listen to the crazy economist Max Keiser and I have heard him talk in a similar way. It is all rather depressing. I can understand how the ponzi scheme works , why it is failing and why the whole house of cards will inevitably fall down but I find it is hard to understand the dumping of morality and empathy on mass. Perhaps when it all comes crashing down and people have nothing, they will re-find their lost compassion and start caring for each other and their elderly again.

Whatever you put as your main focus as being the most important thing in life is inevitably what you end up with and have to deal with the consequences of those choices.
I understand your meaning from a financial stand point. The elderly are living longer and their care has to be paid for somehow some way.
Where there is a will there is a way.
I live in Norway and luckily they structured their economy around their most valuable asset. Oil. When they discovered oil in the 1970s they created an "Oil Fund". Basically it was a high interest investment account of which they were not allowed to touch until 10 years had past. And so for 10 years they pumped all their oil revenue into this "Oil Fund". Ten years later it was huge and so they decided to just use the interest money the fund earns every year. The Govt now use this money for pensions, hospitals, road construction, child care, free health care and of course the care for the elderly. Today Norway´s´national oil fund is valued at $1 trillion dollars. Perhaps this explains why care for the elderly in Norway is considered as being the highest standard in the world.
However, as I said, whatever you put your focus on as being important in your country is what you will inevitably get. When Norway found oil they hired a philosopher for guidance for their future, NOT a businessman. He advised that the Govt focus on investing in their citizens and not making profit of the certain privileged few. There are very rich folk in Norway but the wealth is generally spread very evenly. There are no poor in Norway, all can afford a house and care in the community is valued very high. Nurses for the elderly are highly trained and have some of the highest salaries in the country. Without our grandparents not of us would be here.
Thanks for the intelligent response.

·
·

I took care of my mother till she died of cancer.

It will be interesting (maybe horrifying) to see what happens in The US. As the generation that was ignored growing up is asked to bare the financial and emotional responsibility of those that ignored them.

America was gutted for wealth of a few. That too will be interesting to watch how it unfolds.

I feel the worst is that no generational knowledge has been passed down. Even worse is that most of the elderly I have worked with are all broken records, with almost no knowledge to pass down.

I hope it gets better.

·
·
·

It´s a tragedy for sure my friend. Its seems that mankind only changes when they have no choice but to change.

This is an awesome post and yes we elderly really need the few cents coming our way. To me steemit has brought new life to my brain and even a little exta income. Thank you so much for thinking of the elderly.

·

We all get old. I was raised to respect the older generation so it is not an effort for me I guess. But the younger generations could do with a reminder perhaps. Cheers for the comment

Sounds like the US... they hate us old folks here! I urge the punks to visit me and threaten me with a knife. I have a Sig .45 with 15 acp rounds with their names on them!!!

·

I was raised to respect my elders. It was not like it was hard to do either. Its seemed very natural to me to respect those who have been on this earth longer. I always saw the old folks as people I could learn wisdom from to save me a life time learning what it took a lifetime for them to learn. Folks that mistreat the elderly are the lowest of the low in my view. Thanks of the comment.

·
·

Kids are raised now to believe that everything is about them. It's in the schools with the "self-esteem" movement- it's in the movies and on TV. When I was a kid there was an elderly lady whose walk I used to shovel... She'd give me a quarter. But she used to tell me stories and show photos from "the old days"- what a wealth of information- these kids are really shorting themselves! What a shame, you're right!

·
·
·

No argument from me on that my friend.