These changing times

There is a growing perception among the middle-aged and elderly that the younger generations are showing less respect for those older than them.

Societies change.

Exposed to modern education, a predominantly western media and culture, and the demands of one of the fastest growing economies in the region, we’re seeing our children mature faster.

Other cultures that have practised filial piety have seen their traditionally hierarchical structures flattened to more horizontal ones as such exposure occurs.

But there are other effects that occur. With better medical care, we’re living longer. As a result, the elderly population will increase. As the economy improves, there will be more jobs. Competition for these limited jobs will only intensify further.

We’re already seeing the more disturbing effects of this change: it is mostly only the elderly left in the villages. We already hear a few stories of elderly parents either neglected or abandoned by their children.

We’ve always respected our elders. It’s a part of our culture and tradition. We refer respectfully to members of the elderly as agay or angay in recognition of the experience and wisdom they’ve gained. We’ve other terms like au, ashim, acho, asha, among others, to identify which rung of the ladder we are on.

It’s not limited only to titles. We accord the elderly the best seat. We serve them ahead of all others and in the best utensils. We make sure they can get to Bodhgaya every year, no matter the costs. We care for them as they once took care of us when we were younger.

“But the times, they are a-changin”.

We must prepare and it must start at home. As parents, we must set an example. We must practise what we ourselves would expect as we hit the twilight of our lives. There is no better example than seeing it done.

As elders, we must also understand that not all forms of traditional behaviour can survive. The demands of society change and, with that, behaviour. The younger generations will be more outspoken. They will question certain traditions.

What matters is that the essential core of our culture of reverence for elders survives. Our children must understand why we take care of the elders. There are many reasons. It’s a part of our tradition but it’s not because of tradition. At the core of it is simply that it’s the right thing to do as a human being.

1 reply
  1. MIGNIEN
    MIGNIEN says:

    BEING AN ELDERLY MYSELF (76 Years old ) I can suggest ideas to solve the problem of an increasing elderly population in Bhutan ; we have the same problem in the old so called developed democracies .
    To prepare and give ideas to the Policy makers , if Nothing is done , it will happens a crisis between generations ; the third and fourth aged population risk to be abandonned by their children as it is said in the above article
    In our old democracies , we live with that problem : the elders are often neglected and often live alone , with few contact with the youth .
    I can show how we have solved this problem : may be those solutions can be adapted in the future in Bhutan ?

    The mindset of the youth nowadays are so much attracked by searching well paid jobs and multiple contacts whith each other through many digital systems ( twitter , chat spot , Facebook and so on ) that they fully live in a connection society even with foreigners friends ; thank to tis system they can built a chain of friends to discuss with concerning every news quickly ; Youth live in a hurrry and are thirsty of news evererywherre ovr the world ; they need to have and create contacts new friends and relationship ; and for the boys to have the way to get affairs with girls .

    Although the elders are out of this way of contact ; they get used with oral discussion which take much time to chat with theirs neighbors if they have .

    The result is , not only in remain area but even in the center of the city the elders are isolated ; some are happy to be babysitters ; they have temporarily a justicatinion for living.

    But , the time passing , when the baby becoming boys and girls with many friends thantks to school, , the elderlys become out the community : parents are busy , many schools are boarding schools , where children stay up to the week end ; sommetimes some of them .

    So the elders , sometimes handicapped , get alone ; and sometimes contact with the youth are rough ; because youth are outspoken , as it is said :

    Youth find the elders out of the the new living way ; and attentive only to the news of their next valley or their tradtion youth do not understand any more .

    My friend Bhutaneses teach me thoses problems .

    So in the so called highly developed countries , there is a way to avoid isolation of the elders ; in every district there is old people’s home , medicalicalized homes , or club hous,according their health .

    That system , i never heard of in Bhutan.

    In thoses houses they will have thrilling activities :playing cards , dancing , speech time ;they will follow lectures by university students , and monks about Buddhism ; they will have meals at regular times ; the assistant can take care of them if they need . including help to fill administrative forms or applying to a department the will see tv program through all over the country (and traditional feasts ) .

    And youth and relatives will be able to see them in a good environment .

    So the elder will end their life with a healthy environment and wil not feel abandoned

    This is to solve the outburst of traditional society when , in the old times , the youngers would take care of the elders. . That explain in part the number of female growing more than male . because it is said than a female is more attentive to his parents than boys. Who are turned better to resarch girls to have brief affairs with many of them .

    The problem is to know if the families cqn pay for thoses servicing charges . And how the Government can participate with strict rules for the poorest elders. A Policy program is to imagine to apply that system . It will take a long time to set up .

    But ass soon as the Policy makers will think to solve thiat problem , better it will be easier to carry out it .

    A challenge for the future Assembly facing the change of youth mindset ; very worrying for the elders who each of us will become once a day in the future

    jcmignien@orange.fr

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