Miriam Van Groen is one of our younger guests in this series which is about Age, Aging and consciousness. When we invited her to think about the concept of “AGEISM” she was shocked about the extent of its presence, mainly unnoticed and unacknowledged in every day’s life, but nonetheless present in its often very destructive power.
We don’t want to install a set of rules for political correctness towards age and older people, but we want to invite you to become conscious of how much we judge people, not only by race and sex, but also by age,
We are all ageist. Fortunately, we can practice being more inclusive.
The world around us is changing fast: its structures (information and social media, technology and science, environmental stress, changing demography) and cultures, and peoples’ behaviors and (limiting) beliefs about what meaning a certain age carries. Like gender and race, age is an attribute that can be gauged by looking at someone. This means it is especially likely to be a factor in our assessment of them, linking their imagined age to certain traits we associate with it.
As a person who is still considered to be relatively young (well, depending on who you ask ;-)), I have had a blind spot for looking at the world through the lense of age. Once I started noticing more, I realised all age groups are biased towards each other. Some assumptions we have about each other are helpful, while others: probably not so much. Any ‘ism’ means having a fixed, limited view of reality. That could hamper our connections and our (accelerating) evolution. The unpredictability of developments in our complex (and complicated) societies, means we will all need to be as open as possible to be able to respond to and influence those developments in a helpful way.
The starting point for recovering from our ageism is to accept we have it. From there we can begin to imagine ourselves as having different ages, for instance by moving our bodies in different ways. We can connect with people of different age groups and be curious about their experience of age, also on the intersection of gender and race. We can step into the role of our age (a child is learning and discovering, a young person is doing and making, a middle aged person is leading, an old person dispensing wisdom), while holding it lightly: a younger person can have wisdom, an older person can be flexible, 60 is the new 50, etc.
During this call I will share my own journey and some exercises to help us have more empathy and freedom when it comes to our own and others’ age.