Ashok Silwal

Perhaps our society is still bound by strong traditions that maintain officially well-defined structures; so, the following “speech” will seem out of place.

In recent time, however, I have read many interesting analysis and reflections about these new ties, new friendships, new understandings between two people of different generations. I found it to be an element of unusual approach about the society. For this, I like to share it, although today it probably concerns more western societies than ours.

“I chose an elderly woman for a friend…” ..said a young American writer, Mackenzie, 31 years old, during an informative interview about changes in American society.

Annie, her friend, is 84 years old.

Together they create, they produce and above all have fun.

Annie is the daughter of the “silent” times; Mackenzie belongs to the digital age. Between their dates of birth, there are two generations but they share the same interests and points of view. They have a strong bond of understanding, protection, reciprocity.

In a “liquid” society, relationships are increasingly horizontal. Age does not matter, actually; the age difference has almost disappeared. Young people want to know stories and look for authoritative, wise people willing to listen to them. The elderly, on the other hand are less and less elderly and more youthful .

According to a study by Social Sciences Department of Trinity College in Dublin, intergenerational relationships help young people to integrate into new communities and to have a different vision of the world. Age is insignificant when there is reciprocity, common passions, understandings, when talking and listening is only pleasure and enrichment, when the positive or negative criticism are opportunities fro refections, exchanges and growth. They draw energy from each other, feeling somewhat equal. Having a youthful soul within, even in an aging body, cancels any chronological gap.

The identity of the elderly friends, through the sum of their experiences and these mysterious threads of feelings like respect and tenderness, patience and gratefulness, brings them closer to the young generations. Young people are uncertain, they have no future outlined; now more than ever, the need a bigger person to help them build their own path. Intergenerational relationships work because there is trust, confidence, encouragement.

More than crossings, these relationships are “merger” based on empathy, a kind of symbiosis destined to resist in the availability of each other. Data from the aforementioned research confirm that half last at least ten years and many others over twenty years or until death.
For young people, older friends offer other perspectives and are often models for inspiration.

The elderly instead retrace with them what they have experienced, they feel appreciated for their own experiences, opinions, intuitions. The result is an extremely dense and enriching exchange in which each only wants to give. They are very strong ties of understanding that “break” the “normal” rules.

Incomprehensible bonds until one experiences them, but more explainable thinking that people are people … they don’t have a neck tag with age.

Here my humble contribution to an’out-of-the-ordinary’ reflection, attempting to understand the multiple aspects of social change.

Will it interest the reader?

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