The older I’ve become the more aware I’ve become of the degree to which the wisdom of experience is under-valued in our modern culture. Having lived with a traditional culture that values wisdom, I know this is a real shame because wisdom born of experience is hard won and has much to offer.
I believe this devaluing of experience is mainly due to two factors — advertising and ignorance. From the 1950’s onwards we’ve been sold the notion that new is better. This might be true for products but it is not true for people.
To be clear, I’m not saying young people have nothing to offer (I work with a lot of young people and they are mostly awesome people).
No! I am not saying that at all. Rather, what I am saying is the notion sold to us by advertising and media companies that bright and shiny new things are of more value undermines our cultural in such a manner as to undervalue more than the products they are selling.
In short it is bad for all concerned. Bad for young people also. Why?
The video below is with a writer/director named, Zoe Cassavetes who happens to be a 44 year old and prime of her life! Yet she wrote the story presumably because she sees issues around turning forty — or knows people who are having these issues. This is sad.
The movie might be great and it is certainly a good idea to explore these issues regardless of how she deals with them (indeed another example of the power of cinema) but, when did turning forty become like this? Perhaps I’m overstating the issue? Am I?
Watching this interview, I kept asking myself…what is really going on here? The problem is not simply the number of candles on your birthday cake. (A side point you might find interesting. In traditional Tibetan culture many people had no idea when they were born. How old you were carried little importance. What was important were your actions. Period!)
What I find interesting here is how the devaluing of experience, and the effects this has on younger men and women, is directly correlated to how they see the process of maturing. In older cultures, the wise sage was revered. That is no longer the case.
My own mother is in her 70’s and stronger and brighter than she has ever been but instead we have a cult of celebrity as a pseudo-educator of today’s youth.
Indeed, how to act, what is valuable, and what one should aspire to, comes from a very limited and in my view narrow view of the world. A world-view whereby the marks of experience that appear on faces are deemed the signs of uselessness, and people are sold the notion that they must be vanquished with magical creams at any cost! …i enjoyed writing that sentence! But it’s true isn’t it! 🙂
But if our culture valued wisdom and celebrated knowledge then wouldn’t younger people look forward to getting older instead of fearing it? I think they would.
A culture of celebrity is killing our kids!
There are a number of questions remaining unanswered here. Questions crying for discussion. Questions such as: Does experience equal wisdom? Does youth have anything meaningful to offer modernity?
Young or old(er)? How do you feel about aging? Do you feel as if your experience is under valued?