A few years ago, while videotaping a story about my life, Mike Binkley, a dear friend to me and former television news anchor here in the Twin Cities, once asked me how I would like to be remembered. It's a question I'd never been asked, but, for some unknown reason, I was able to respond with an answer, without hesitation. I told Mike I would like to be remembered as someone who only wanted to become successful enough to be able to help other people become successful. It was true then and true now. I suppose my response to Mike could be considered a legacy statement or even an ongoing statement while still alive. My thinking doesn't make me some sort of hero or saint, but I always feel better when I know something I did helped someone else.
Once again, not being a hero nor a saint (nor a devil, either!), I still feel instilled with the values and thought-processes I (and most probably, you) learned in those mostly more innocent and wholesome days of our youth. MY youth (and values-learning) years were the 1930s, 1940s and early 1950s. We were taught manners. We automatically thought "please" and "thank you" in every instance when those words applied, or should have applied. Without being solicitous or condescending, we males held doors open for females and rose at dining tables when a female approached to be seated. We, more than today, in my opinion, respected even those with whom we disagreed, acknowledging their rights to their opinions, unless those opinions were obviously inflammatory or hate-enough oriented to incite violence. A famous Voltaire comment has lived through the centuries. Respectfully. in case you may have forgotten, Voltaire said (paraphrased here), "I may strongly disagree with your views, but I will fight to the death to defend your right to express those views."
In my opinion, regarding what it means to be an older American at this time in our history, is often experiencing disrespect for what knowledge we have to offer society. It's been universally accepted for decades our U.S. society generally treats its senior citizens with much less respect than other cultures in this world, most notably those in Asia. In Japan and other Far East countries, elders are treated with inbred societal respect. Younger people there are taught age fosters wisdom and the older the person, the more valued wisdom and education they can impart to those just emerging into the throes of competitive society.
Why is more respect for elders so much a part of society in most other countries? One reason could be those countries and cultures have existed for millennia. Our culture has existed for 243 years. Does our youthful existence make us a lesser society? Of course not. We're justifiably looked upon as the most successful in the history of the world. That success, however, needs to continually grow to the point wherein our society parallels the thinking of most of this world's other countries in regard to making most older Americans receive the respect they deserve. Humbly but also realistically stated, in my opinion and the opinions of many, Ebenezer Communities are the precise exemplars of that respectful thinking and reality.