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Crusaders, activists, change agents; whatever you wish to call them, take up a cause and fight. Some people protest for justice or others race for cure. These groups can be noisy or organized; the individual may be loud or quiet. While the methods vary, the goal remains the same. Each person is a crusader, they all have a cause that call to them. As for me, there are two . . . This is one of them.

Many folks are affected by the plight of children world-wide. Their hearts clutches at the sight of a child in need. Their first instinct might be to rush in save the innocent. Children stir these feelings base on the idea they are helpless  and cannot fend for themselves, alone in this cruel world. There is actually scientific evidence for this and its role in the survival of the species.  Children also symbolize home and the future. Maybe the child a person saves will in turn grow up to save many more or go on to bigger and greater things. It is a sweet thought.

These people are all part of The Cult of the Child and the Victorians practically invented the idea. Instead of adhering to the ideology of previous centuries where children were considered small-sized adults, the treatment of children changed. Childhood became synonymous with innocence that needed to be protected and encouraged. This was partially spurred by the technological and economical advances of first world countries in medicines, food, and government assistance. Consequently, children were generally treated with more kindness and a soft hand, not seen en masse in previous eras. From the Victorians to the present, the image of a sweet baby has melted hearts. “Everything” became all about the child; including, for the first time, their happiness and enjoyment, instead of just their well-being and making sure they survive into their adolescent years. Childhood and the mini-milestones associated with it became Big Business. Public daycares, nurseries, special clothing, fun programs, more resources and specialists turned a pretty penny into profit for the owners.

Naturally, there are two sides to every debate. The pendulum must swing both ways. –First, let me say, I am not a member of the Cult of the Child. I never have been, even when I was a child myself. I’m a quiet crusader for the More Seasoned Sect. My heart goes out to them.

Here’s why. Old age is a second childhood. A harsher childhood. Understandably as we age, reality hardens  our outlook and roughens our edges. If an adult is in a bad way, it was via poor choices made earlier in life. Many modern adults are of the attitude a contemporary must earn their respect, but yet demand it immediately for themselves upon introduction to someone new. It is a “prove it to me” or “you must earn it” philosophy. Some see the aged and infirmed as a nuisance or obligation, even a waste of resources for people who “clearly haven’t and won’t contributed to the greater good. They are done.” So people snub their noses at these mature adults residing in nursing homes and hospitals.

It is a harsh reality for many older folks. I fear people who make such comments are only looking on the surface of things and not the broader scope. These old and infirmed already made their contributions; some have paid with their hearts, limbs, lives, and sanity. Often they are parents who might have sacrificed themselves financially or otherwise to the Cult of the Child. They might have fought for our country or done many great things during the more able bodied years. Even if they did not contribute to the wider world, they have survived and endured. They are still here. I think that’s more than enough reason to be treated with respect.

Moreover, and this is purely selfish, of me; older people are full of stories! Even if their memories are shot, they have lived to tell the tales. Each story is an amazing tale worthy of any bestselling saga; war, torrid romances, tragedy, triumph, and bountiful twists along the way. Often sharing these memories are a great delight for people in nursing homes. I should know as I volunteered during high school and would just sit by their feet and listen with rapt attention and delight. Older people love being heard. It’s a form of validation to be noticed and respected. Via their own stories they are contributing to the future; what to do, what not to do; a lesson in every venerable breath.

Some people claim seniors are ornery, curmudgeons, and basically ol’ battle-axes. Can you really blame them? Attitude, life, and circumstances have made them so. Yes, some older person may be difficult to love, but then they are the ones who probably need it the most as they were often not the recipients to it earlier in life. Personally, I am treating them as I would want to be treated at that age. I do not want to be forgotten and I know what it is like be lonely and feel tossed aside. So my heart goes out to the old and infirmed. Over my own lifetime I have volunteered with various organizations and associations for seniors and will continue to do so. It’s important to me. These are my people.