Respect your elders

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Ally Daskalopoulos, Columnist

Earlier this week, the highly publicized event of Pope Francis’ visit and address to Congress has left a lasting impression on me.

While most may be focused on his surprisingly liberal standpoint on issues such as immigration, environmental pollution and the death penalty, that is not what stuck out to me during his sermon.

I was moved by his recognition and praise for the four prominent figures of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton. His comparison of the members of Congress to the holy figure of Moses also struck a chord with me.

Ultimately, his advice to modern America, and more specifically members of my generation, is what truly captured my attention.  Pope Francis addressed and recognized the hardworking elderly, “who are a storehouse of wisdom forged by experience, and who seek in many ways, especially through volunteer work, to share their stories and their insights.”

It seems to me that my generation has collected an unimpressive reputation that becomes more and more apparent everyday. After sitting through countless discussions at the dinner table with members of my family and listening to my grandparents lecture about the importance of my future and lack of respect my generation has accumulated, I can say I’ve had my fair share of criticism.

From paying attention to the news and now hearing Pope Francis, the thought of all the problems this generation will inherit in the near future is alarming and stressful.

“We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our ‘neighbors’ and everything around us,” Pope Francis said.

The task of educating can only go so far. It is ultimately up to us to accept and apply that knowledge and wisdom the past generation has so graciously offered to us. The only way to successfully accomplish this is by becoming more conscious of the previous generation.

Respecting our elders and listening to their wise words is the best route to eventually becoming the mature adults they hope to see. The future of America is in our hands and that’s a scary thought. What is perhaps even scarier is witnessing adults over the age of 50 being forced out of their jobs by younger, less qualified individuals.

Some of you may not be familiar with situations like that, but it has become a reality all too familiar for members of my family. How are we to succeed in shaping a new America if we are eliminating those who, quite frankly, know best and are more knowledgeable than us?

They can bring to the table something greater than we can offer simply by being alive and experiencing way more than we have yet. By becoming more informed and conscious about what is going on everyday in our country, and taking into account the experience of the past generation, only then can we say we’ve done all we can do.

Where do we want to be at age 50? Will we too be shown that our viewpoint is suddenly irrelevant or too expensive? Once we’ve reached that milestone, it will be our turn to pass down our wisdom to members of America’s next generation.

I hope they’re interested and listening. The time to give the past a chance to be heard and resurrected is now.