Senior citizens still have lots to contribute to our society
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.