Se­nior ci­ti­zens still have lots to con­trib­ute to our so­ci­ety

Global Times – Metro Shanghai - - FRONT PAGE - By Lu Ting Page Ed­i­tor: chen­[email protected]­al­times.com.cn

Se­nior ci­ti­zens are quite old and rich with life ex­pe­ri­ences, but is this age group con­sid­ered by us to be as charm­ing and fas­ci­nat­ing?

Un­for­tu­nately, it seems there aren’t a lot of peo­ple who care about our se­nior ci­ti­zens, let alone feel that they are charm­ing. In many peo­ple’s minds, the el­derly are use­less – un­less they can do house­work for us or raise our kids. One of my friends, when we dis­cuss se­niors, says “What can you ex­pect of the el­derly in a fam­ily? Their strength has melted, their brains have be­gun to rot. If they want to do some­thing, daily house­work suits them.”

I strongly dis­agree with this. But some Chi­nese be­lieve that our el­ders should spend their golden years cook­ing meals or babysit­ting for their own adult chil­dren in­stead to find­ing some­thing they re­ally love to do. In fact, I have heard so many views like this that some­times I’m quite afraid to think about what will hap­pen when I be­come older.

Un­til one day when I met a group of se­nior aun­ties in my gym, who showed me a dif­fer­ent world. It was my first yoga les­son this year and I was sur­prised to see so many aun­ties in the class, whereas there were only about four peo­ple my age. When we started, I was shocked to see that all the aun­ties were far more ca­pa­ble and flex­i­ble than me and the oth­ers in my age group.

It’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber and ad­mit that the el­derly are tal­ented re­sources who are in fact far more ca­pa­ble than those of us in our 20s, 30s and 40s, sim­ply be­cause they have ac­com­plished more in their life­times than we have. With this in mind, se­niors de­serve more op­por­tu­ni­ties to be able to help ser­vice our so­ci­ety again. For ex­am­ple, we could build a com­mu­nity plat­form for them to share their spe­cial­ties.

A large num­ber of old peo­ple stay at home in a stereo­typed po­si­tion, but many re­ally want to get out and con­trib­ute more to so­ci­ety. One of my mother-in-law’s el­derly friends com­plained that, be­cause she has no med­i­cal li­cense, she can not work or vol­un­teer at a hos­pi­tal. But I be­lieve that if her com­mu­nity gave her a sec­ond chance – maybe teach­ing lo­cal res­i­dents first aid – we could ben­e­fit from her par­tic­i­pa­tion.

My own mother is re­tired, but she still works half-day shifts for a lo­cal com­pany once a week. She is sat­is­fied with this job be­cause it brings her a sense of pride, which in turn makes our per­sonal re­la­tion­ship more har­mo­nious. A lot of rel­a­tives ad­vise her to “have a good rest” in­stead of work, but I sup­port her.

I don’t think that giv­ing older peo­ple more op­por­tu­ni­ties means that younger peo­ple will lose their jobs. They can work in dif­fer­ent fields, such as in­tan­gi­ble her­itages and things that they are fa­mil­iar with and knowl­edge­able about. Shang­hai has se­nior ci­ti­zen ac­tiv­ity cen­ters in ev­ery lo­cal com­mu­nity, but I sug­gest that we re­name these cen­ters to “se­nior mas­ter ac­tiv­ity cen­ters.”

We and they can learn lots of wis­dom from these “mas­ter teach­ers.” For ex­am­ple, af­ter his re­tire­ment, my father-in-law started to learn how to draw Chi­nese tra­di­tional paint­ings at a lo­cal univer­sity for the aged; he won a prize in a com­pe­ti­tion in 2017. To let our el­derly use tal­ents that have to find new mean­ing in life is our duty, and it is also our own fu­ture. Oth­er­wise, When we our­selves be­come old, all we will have to look for­ward to is ne­go­ti­at­ing the price of veg­eta­bles and gos­sip­ing with our neigh­bors.

The opin­ions ex­pressed in this ar­ti­cle are the au­thor’s own and do not nec­es­sar­ily re­flect the views of the Global Times.

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