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Elders in American society

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  • Fri, Mar 08, 2013 - 11:40am



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    Elders in American society

I thought I might make an observation or two here about American society and our elder resources that we generally do not utilize.

Not that I think this will be news to anyone here but generally our society sucks at transferring information from generation to generation.  Because we are all into the myth of progress, or as I tend to term it "be happy, it just gets betta and betta" we have done little to encourage our seniors to engage and help with knowledge transference through the generations.  When I moved here I had lived in the really big and fast-paced city for the majority of my life.  While I immediately enjoyed just absorbing the cleaner air, the sounds of nature and my developing land base I quickly found I couldn't identify most of the animals or plants.  We hired a local older man with a chain saw and a small tractor to help clear some of the woods from the edge of the house and I quickly found he was a rich resource on trees.  He could identify every one of them.  So he was very helpful in helping me selectively clear.  Only those badly diseased, too close together or not with a useful side.  I have wild cherry, sassafras and long-leaf pine that has nearly disappeared from this area due to logging.  I would not have been able to do that well without him.  And I would not have begun my journey in understanding my bioregion and land-base without engaging him and asking questions.

My mom is good at identifying herbacious plants and I've gotten much better at identifying plants at the two and four leaf stage but walking with her and asking lots of questions.  She is also good at sensing the weather, something she gained from her parents.  Both of them could look up at the sky and know the time of day within about thirty minutes (I'm getting there), know whether the weather was going to change (working on this as well), and smell a rattlesnake (not even close to being there though I keep trying).

Those of us who are trying to prepare for the next great social discontinuity need to engage our elders in helping to educate.  Not just stories but useful information and ways of adapting.  And now that I'm close to being an elder (I suspect my younger neighbors thinking I'm already there) I need to share info readily and openly.  I try and interestingly have found that like stray animals who need a home and seem to know which ones to target, young people will find you if you treat them as adults and share openly.  So the purpose here is to encourage transference of knowledge, up and down.  We need to get better at this and fast.  Find someone older and younger and get started.  Sharon

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