Perhaps you know one or more persons of advanced age who complain about life. After all, aches and pains tend to set in as life progresses. But does that mean we can generalize and even attribute the occurrence of hate speech to the age factor? No.
First of all, we should not discriminate against the elderly who have shouldered many difficult tasks for the benefit of their loved ones – and for society. Sometimes it is difficult to understand different generations sharing life other key life experiences than those in their prime. In some cases, it might help to simply begin to communicate.
Not only will he or she lending an ear to a an elderly understand that person better. Especially while the latter is a challenged person. In addition, the famous proverb applies: a problem shared is a problem halved. Either because it simply helps to talk about a bothersome thing, or because the one listening might help find some kind of practical alleviation for the one talking. This constellation might even turn out to be helpful later on, when that person reaches mature and old age him- or herself.
What is more, and most notably, age is, in most cases, a protective factor against hate. As we know, adolescence is the age when juveniles search for orientation and sometimes end up partly lost. After all, some questions are difficult to answer when not yet applied. When a bit older, experience is helpful, and so is being part of family, belonging to groups of people, and one’s profession. Or else any activities that make sense – either for oneself or for a greater good.
Of course, personality plays a role, and skepticism or pessimism are traits shared by many. We should be mindful that we cannot change a person completely. That said, we should, at any rate, not encourage the practice of bullying. On the contrary: we should care, to an appropriate degree, not least in order to provide an alternative to simple and unhelpful reflexes. This will allow us to do our share in preserving people’s dignity.
I’m sum, closing the gates of compassion prematurely might just disentitle a valuable person of his or her legal right to equal treatment and his or her chance to making a constructive contribution to society.
Thorsten Koch, MA, PgDip
25 May 2023