Be Nice To Old People, People!

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

Places to go, people to see.

Places to go, people to see. Source: Ben Scicluna hide caption

itoggle caption Source: Ben Scicluna

Admit it... There have been times when someone in the car ahead is driving with the left-turn indicator blinking, blinking, blinking, on a one-lane road, with no turns in sight... You've probably thrown a few choice words at the driver — aloud, or to yourself — and there's a decent chance that, when you've gotten a good look at that driver, he or she is a senior citizen. Or maybe you're in a hurry at the grocery store, just picking up items for dinner, and the elderly customer at the head of the line counts out his or her change a little too slowly for your schedule. Maybe you've just heard your own aged mother or father talking about things like love and sex, and you've gotten grossed out. Well, guess what? Hearing often fails with age, so maybe the driver just doesn't hear the "click-click," and isn't really just out to annoy you. And the customer counting change might have issues with his vision or dexterity, but again, he isn't just out to annoy you. I think you know what I'm going to say next... Old people care about sex and love too, and talking about them is normal... Not just a way of annoying younger folks. All this is to say we (myself included!) can be pretty intolerant of people in their golden years, and now there are classes spring chickens can take to try to physically understand what it's like to have the limited abilities that often come with old age. Hopefully, empathy follows understanding. Have you ever caught yourself short of patience with an old person? Do you try to fight those feelings? Has someone taught you that the elderly deserve empathy just like anyone else?

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The idea of teaching empathy is interesting. The key is teaching awareness.

The problem is that as we go through our lives, we become inured to our surroundings ??? including the people with whom we come into contact each day.

A couple years ago, some friends and I developed a game that allows people to see the world through the eyes of others. We called it experiments in anonymous kindness, and it is based on the game of tag.

The game involves doing something nice for someone you don???t know, and who doesn???t know you. After your kind act, you leave behind a small card that says: someone just did something nice for you, and now it???s your turn to do something nice for someone else and pass this card along.

When you walk down the street with this card in your pocket, suddenly you are looking for opportunities to give it away: and you see people???s needs, all around you, as you never have before.

Check out: www.helpothers.org.

Sent by mbjesq | 3:34 PM | 10-11-2007

I just did check out helpothers.org, and thank you, mbjesq, for passing it on.

Sent by kate | 3:40 PM | 10-14-2007