Is age in the “eye of the beholder?”

It happens so easily in our often “child-centered” yet so often a negligent culture that we take for granted the “them” in the equation.  Unfortunately, I’m writing about the “us and them” in youth’s relationship with adults in the society we live in.  The specific issue I’m writing about should go in the file marked Adultism.

Don’t you wish that we behaved with more unity and respect for diversity/difference within the context of our civil society?  One way to get at this consequence is to learn how we play into a society steeped in Adultism, getting more information about Adultism, and then starting by employing the tools and resources (that do encompass the art of substituting one type of practical knowledge with another).

So, what is Adultism?  Very simply, it’s the social systems within our culture that emphasize adult power & authority as a superior way of doing things, when held up to a template of how we adults think, feel & believe youth or children should be viewed and interacted with by adults.

Like any other kind of ism, there are varied ideologies, practices, behaviors, norms, & philosophies that are followed in Adultism, even if unconsciously followed.

Here’s one for example: suppose your church is setting up some kind of event or activity; the event requires a lot of hard work on decoration, setting up, food, space, clean up, etc. Your congregation is made-up of around fifty percent middle-aged adults (over 18), about twenty-five percent elderly, and the rest consists of youth.

We adults look at the situation, and often say, “This will never work.  We don’t really have enough folks to make this thing happen!”  Our next thought may be: the teen-agers we’ve got have so much energy and persistence-they’re young & energetic, so they can do this-and we’ve immediately reinforced & played-into Adultism; it happens so much and so easily and with so much unconsciousness, that it “becomes business as usual.”

What I’m driving at here is trying to persuade us to change what has become a mechanical reaction in relationship with youth.  I’m not talking about mentoring a young person, or asking someone younger, that you feel isn’t fulfilling their potential, adding skill-you might suggest a solution that the other person might gain a tangible benefit-either a material or spiritual result.

Can you see the difference?  Adultism gets built out of thought processes that don’t achieve equality, but rather as a sort of blind system perpetuated by something that keeps us “up and others down.”  Adultism keeps youth in a “one down” position, thus an inferior one. Anti-adultism enables youth to develop their own sense of identity, not someone else’s.  Thus, it’s a “high self-esteem growing” behavior, and one that’s based on the person’s own sense of self-confidence, not only the group’s power or confidence.
©Christopher Bear-Beam November 5, 2016


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