Do you accept the elderly as partners in your community? This was a question asked in a column in the Catholic Times on Social Issues. Problems with the elderly are common in society. Cultural and moral values cannot be judged by efficiency alone, a great danger in an economic orientated social structure that seeks only economic value and profit.
Not infrequently when talking with friends the elderly are ignored. There is a tendency to want to respect them but not involved in society. Many prejudices and barriers exist in society because of age differences.
Unfortunately, in our society, the elderly and alienation are terms that are closely associated. Wisdom, age, and the position of the elderly were at the center of the home, but that is no longer the case. In the comprehensive report on human rights of the elderly released by the National Human Rights Commission in 2018, 80.9% of the respondents were negative on the human rights of the elderly. Increasing support burdens, job shortages, and social conflicts are factors. The government's recent proposal to raise the official age of retirement has received criticism from many sectors of society.
Besides, there are statements made about the elderly that are difficult even to repeat, expressions that disparage the elderly online, including YouTube. "Old people take the jobs of young people!", "Old people are old and useless!", "The anachronistic judgments of old people threaten society!" Etc. But isn't this too much? There is a place for reasonable criticism, however, to show this kind of contempt for the elderly, as if they have no place in society is an extremely unhealthy, immature reaction of society.
It is not easy for the elderly to adapt to the rapidly changing technological civilization. They also have a weak economic base because they poured out everything on their children. The weakening of their bodies and minds make them the weakest in society. And yet it was their contributions and sacrifices, that gave us the present society.
Why did the excessive generational conflicts and aversions arise? Because of our negative perception of the elderly. In fact, the elderly problem is a comprehensive symbol of Korean social problems. It shows what our society has pursued and the results of the upheaval of the last 50 years. Our prosperity and development achieved did it not bring with it indifference, selfishness, conflict, and aversion in society? He worries that the only thing left in society with the neglect of morality and ethics is hatred and conflict.
Has not the perception that "we only need to save the economy" shaken our mutual understanding, and love for neighbor. The current situation of pursuing economic value and profit alone neglects many and threatens families and the elderly. Many seniors who have dedicated their lives to society live in bitterness and alienation. Our society is on the wrong path.
What do you think of the duty of filial piety in the Ten Commandments? Piety is the first step to remind people of the source in forming a community and loving their neighbors. Of course, the younger generation's disappointment with the older generations certainly exists. But should not love and forgiveness be the greatest unseen asset of society? Society has changed, and the roles of individuals and the ways the different generations coexist have to change. But this should not lead to the destruction of human dignity but mutual respect for the needs of the other. Society's development and reform should be directed toward constructive search and the coexistence of new roles, which can be done through the respect of others and a win/win understanding of the needs of the old and young.
"Love is also expressed in the generous attention shown to the elderly who live in families: their presence can take on great value. They are an example of connections between generations, a resource for the well-being of the family and of the whole of society: Not only do they show that there are aspects of life — human, cultural, moral and social values — which cannot be judged in terms of economic efficiency, but they can also make an effective contribution in the work-place and in leadership roles. In short, it is not just a question of doing something for older people, but also of accepting them realistically as partners in shared projects —#222.
Compendium of the Social Gospel of the Church