The aged needs respect, not this type of evil branding by youth
A story published on page 3 of the state-owned Spectator newspaper of Saturday July 29, 2023, with the headline, “Aged not evil… Disrespecting them attracts curses – Catholic Priest” makes for interesting reading. The story written by Dzifa Tetteh Tay read in part: The youth have been advised to treat their parents with respect, especially in their old age. “Do not call your parents witches,” the Parish Priest of the Saint Augustine Catholic Church at Ashaiman in the Greater Accra Region, Reverend Father Ignatius Ayivor (SVD), gave the caution at a church service on Sunday.
Accusing the aged as witches
He said it was appalling that persons who had been blessed to grow old were accused of being witches and being the cause of problems in their homes. Speaking at a joint First and Second Mass on Sunday, he said that persons who maltreated the aged only drew curses for themselves. He lamented that instead of children reciprocating the sacrifices made by their parents in appreciation of their care and love, some old persons were unfortunately, facing serious discrimination, stressing that the practice was becoming a common phenomenon which to him must be discouraged. Old age, he said “is a blessing which not everyone will enjoy”, adding that some old men and women were struggling because their children had neglected them. He said such act would not gounpunished by God, so all children must endeavour to take good care of their parents.
COUNSELING BY REV. MINISTER
Indeed, these are profound statements, words of exhortation and counselling from a reverend minister who have observed and done a research on bad and negative treatment being meted out to people who have one- time tasted life and are now in their advanced age. Some of them might be personalities possess¬ing enormous wisdom and intellectual abilities to advance the course of development in our society. Others have used their rich experience during their youthful age to shape our society and now they are being branded witches and wizards by the youth, some of whom happened to be their own biological parents. That is most painful and unfortunate scenario.
This article will not be complete if I fail to dilate on issues regarding the aged and why there is the need for the younger generation to revere and accord them the necessary and needed respect in the society since they are the repository of wisdom. An older person is defined by the United Nations as someone who is over 60 years of age. However, families and communities often use other socio-cultural factors to define age, including family status, physical appearance or age-related health conditions to determine who is an aged.
WHAT CONSTITUTES AGEING?
Ageing is a gradual, continuous process of natural change that begins in early adulthood. During early middle age, many bodily functions begin to gradually decline. Traditionally, age 65 years has been designated as beginning of old age. Common conditions in older age may include hearing loss, cataracts and refractive errors in the eye, back and neck pain and osteoarthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, diabetes, depression and dementia. As people aged, they are more likely to experience several conditions at the same time. It is generally accepted that damage to genetic materially cells and tissues that accumulate with age which cannot be repaired by the body is the cause of the loss of function associated with ageing.
AGEING IS OF ESSENCE
As humans created by the Almighty God, you cannot avoid getting old at some point in life and that is what we need to understand, recognise and appreciate. As a youth with enough strength, all things being equal without sickness or any ailment that can send you to your grave early or prematurely, you will by all means pass through the various stages of life’s cycle. You will be an infant, toddler, adolescent, adult, middle age and finally old age. The last stage of the life cycle is termed the end-end-of life period, that is when the body system shut down and death is eminent. You do not turn into a witch or wizard at this stage in life, since it is a normal routine that you will one day become old at a point in time. Therefore, for someone who is close to you, a family member, your old blood relation or your own child to brand you a witch or wizard means that person is inviting a curse to himself or herself as the Holy Bible preaches.
Attacks on the aged
It is most unfortunate that parents who have sacrificed to look after their children by ensuring their up-keep and spending a lot to give them better and sound education only turned out to be witches and wizards for the fact that they have grown old. As soon as one starts growing grey hair, he or she automatically becomes a nuisance and evil to the child or the family. Peer pressures from friends among the youth have been contributory factors to some of these negative inclinations.
Showing courtesy and respect to the aged often referred to as senior citizens may not only brighten their day but also yours and can earn you more blessings from the Almighty God. It is important for the youth to always respect our elders, help them in their work, spend some of their time with them, talk to them in a more polite manner, respect their wise counseling and above all show them your love and affection at all times. Sometimes, it can be difficult to relate to the generations that have come before us. Growing up in different circumstances can make us feel as if we have nothing common with them. But, let us not forget that older people have plenty and lots of wisdom and knowledge to share with younger generations and, therefore, treating them with respect should be an ideal thing to do by the youth.
How the aged are held in high esteem
In most jurisdictions across the world, especially in Europe, Asia and the Americas, the aged are held in high esteem, they are highly respected and accorded all the courtesies they deserved to have. Even in public transportation, such as buses and trains, special seats have been reserved to accommodate the aged. In most of their shopping centres, special places have been designated for the aged for their shopping activities. Food rations on daily basis, are provided to the aged to make them feel comfortable and happy. The aged enjoys the fruit of their labour and hard work because they are considered as people who have one time served their countries. Is that the case in Ghana? The answer is big no. We rather prefer to look down on them, vilify them and treat them with the contempt by brand¬ing them with all forms of negativities, such as witches and wizards.
Lukewarm attitudes by govern¬ments
While blaming the youth for various forms of negativities and cruel practices against the older generation and for that matter the aged, it is also important to at least criticise various past and present governments of Ghana for the lukewarm attitudes and also not giving the needed attention to the aged in the society, forgetting that most of them have sacrificed for the betterment of the country. Look at what happened recently when some of the aged have to picket at the Ministry of Finance headquarters in Accra, just to fight for their matured bonds which government was feeling reluctant to pay. Was it not a threat to their survival? Some of them have to trek from far and near to picket daily at the Finance Ministry. It was time subsequent governments in our country set good and shining examples concerning the aged for the youth to emulate.
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By Charles Neequaye