Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Most Self-Hating Form of Prejudice

If you’re black, you’ll never be white.

If you’re male, you’ll never be female.

But no matter what your age, some day you’ll be old.

That’s why you should start purging yourself of the most pervasive, pernicious prejudice of all: Ageism.

This isn’t to imply that other forms of prejudice aren’t destructive; it’s simply the recognition that ageism is unique because it can victimize every living person. The undeniable fact that each person must grow old is what makes ageism the most self-destructive, self-hating form of prejudice that’s ever existed. Ageism is diametrically opposed to Positive Aging, because it’s impossible to live constructively while courting what is essentially self-loathing. If you hate aging, on some level you hate yourself. That’s a fact.

Fear and ignorance form the foundation of all prejudice, and ageism is no exception, because people who indulge in ageism project their fears of aging on older adults. They’re afraid of growing old, because it seems to be filled with land mines. Positive Agers understand that although they will certainly face countless challenges, the life skills they’ve developed give them the ability to live a fulfilling life under any circumstances. Because they’ve acquired the resources to cope, they have the courage to live life to the fullest. To them, age becomes just another number that they seldom even think about.

So, if you want to be a Positive Ager, you must take an honest look within yourself and root out ageism in all its manifestations. And, if you’re not sure exactly what ageism is, learn about it, because your future well-being is on the line. Unlike other things you fear, you can’t segregate yourself from aging. You have to deal with it, because it will most certainly deal with you. (Of course, if you don’t age, you won’t have problems, because you won’t be around.)

The Baby Boomers have lived through the volatile, turbulent ’60s, when the struggle for racial equality was at its most passionate. They know the destructive power of prejudice, and they’re showing signs that they simply won’t tolerate ageism. In fact, the next Civil Rights movement may well address ageism in all its forms, and Boomers will lead the way, because they are, after all, revolutionaries at heart.

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