MAKING USE OF PEOPLE DESIGNATED "USELESS"
THE OLDER GENERATION HAS A WEALTH OF EXPERIENCE AND TIME ON THEIR HANDS
The Younger Generation Has Need Of Their Services And Their Wisdom
The isolation of the individual that is encouraged, if not forced by modern architecture & urban design also isolates the so-called nuclear family from its' own extended family, and from the other families in the community. It's this sort of isolation that helps lead to desperate and self-destructive acts out of a sense of hopelessness and lack of alternatives in a bad situation: We literally have no place to go when we're in trouble at home.
When an adult or a child is abused or assaulted at home, there are usually no witnesses to prevent or report the incident. Therefore it is the victim's word against his or her attacker/ abuser. That person already has power and authority, real or imagined, over the victim in many cases. It's very difficult to go to the only place open to such victims, law enforcement; especially for those who have already been abused by authority at home. Pitting one authority against another is not an attractive prospect to someone victimized by authority at home: The tendency is to not trust any authority after being abused by one.
That leaves hospitals, which are not exactly places of welcome, especially if you don't have insurance. Churches are mostly locked up tight between religious services, which is most of the time, and some have a record of abuse themselves. Many communities have social service organizations that can help, but few people know about them and they're rarely in convenient or inviting locations. Their resources are limited, and accessing them frequently requires entry via some government agency. The government agencies themselves can seem as forbidding and uncaring as the police or the hospitals, to a damaged or wounded person. And the bureaucrats are not there 24/7/52, when desperate people need them.
So, what's missing here? I think it's obvious, or would be if our culture had not designed the answer right out of sight: Our kupuna, as we say here in Hawaii: Old people. We shuffle them off to "retirement communities," "assisted living facilities" and "nursing homes," embarrassed at their advanced decrepitude and lack of function in today's society. But their primary function is biological and a part of our elemental social structure: They're supposed to be there to keep an eye on their children and grandchildren. They're there to give parents and children a respite from each other, and to remind them that they are not alone or without alternatives in any given situation. They can be referees and courts of last resort, givers of sanctuary and reminders of propriety, counterbalances to overly authoritarian parents and out-of-control offspring. Instead of being in the same house or somewhere nearby to provide all this, our parents and grandparents are hidden away someplace far off, cut out of their proper role as loving but impartial mediators for every family. The place that Grandma and Grandpa once occupied, and kept open for any need, is now gone, with nothing to replace it.
I've been thinking about this for a while. As I contemplate approaching the point of being designated economically and socially useless myself, I have wondered what our society would do with all of us old farts from the huge Baby Boom & Echo Boom generations, and our aging offspring, when the Baby Busters came into power. I kept hearing about one-parent families and hard pressed single moms & dads who were forced to choose between raising their kids in poverty and not being there to raise them at all. At the same time, I hear old people grousing about being forced to retire, and having nothing to do all day, every day, for many, many, many years, even as they soaked up tax dollars to the great resentment of the younger generations. The question seemed to answer itself: In exchange for whatever special additional assistance they might need to survive in retirement, our "seniors" could volunteer to help the youngsters out with supervised child-care, and home-delivered services for busy Moms & Dads.
This could start first with people's own families, where appropriate, and expand throughout their own neighborhoods, in an organic rather than bureaucratic fashion. Those still physically and mentally able to help would donate their time, their skills and their accumulated wisdom to make the everyone else's life a little easier. The increase in productivity, combined with the decrease in legal, medical and educational costs would result in a better life for everyone.
This could be done under the onus of the Federal government, providing funds and facilities, helping to organize and publicize the reintegration of the elderly into the mainstream of our society. People are living longer and healthier than ever now, but they still need meaning in their lives, and a connection to their communities. Better a government-subsidized socially useful job that allows seniors to contribute their skills and wisdom, rather than taking entry-level private-sector work away from younger people who need the experience. No jobs would be taken away, since these positions don't exist today. Payment for services would not be an issue, since the senior volunteers would already be receiving services themselves, such as housing assistance, food stamps or EBT cards, Medicaid, discounted public transportation, etc. A volunteer position would enable them to give something back in return, without working them to death in McDonalds or WalMart, which seems to be the current corporatist plan.
(In response to W.V. Fur And Root blogger Connie's post about her experiences working with troubled teens .)
(Cross-posted at blog me no blogs by cosanostradamus.)