Just Why Are We Celebrating Seniors

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By John Hubbuch

I believe that the community is about to begin Celebrating Seniors Week. As a 64 year old I must admit to some strong ambivalence to such a celebration. Just why do we celebrate seniors?           

No one really celebrates other age groups. There is no Celebrating Adolescents Week or Celebrating Middle Age Week. I'm not sure that living longer rather than shorter is cause for anything other than an individual celebration.  Even then you might only be celebrating your genetics or your blind luck.   

People often will say: "He's in pretty good shape for a 70 year old." Or "She looks pretty good for an 80 year old."  It might be better to leave out the age qualifier. It's demeaning. Think instead of age, race or gender and you'll get the picture.           

This celebrating old people probably started with The Greatest Generation. Those people survived the Great Depression and fought WWII. They probably deserved a celebration, but the current group of seniors doesn't. We're known for our mantra: "sex, drugs and rock and roll." Our numbers and persistence in living so long is bankrupting the country and ruining it for our children. Many of the leaders of  our fractured political parties are seniors. I'll celebrate their departure from the political scene.    

Getting old is not cause for celebration. Think erosion. No one celebrates erosion.

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Reader Comments

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Posted: May 20th, 2013 9:15 AM

I guess one angle of senior week would be denial. Ha

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 19th, 2013 11:00 PM

Senior describes a human age. It does not describe anything other than that; so if you want to celebrate seniors -- enjoy yourself. I agree that it is a problem that "senior" now describes anyone from 50-100+, and some other than 50 who dwell on a fear of being in the checkout category - "seniors." I am skipping this years "Senior celebration. I will also miss it 5, 10, and 15 years from now. I have never been big on group rewards and believe that I am the same person as I was 10, 25, 50 years ago. That is; I still hold the door for those behind m (irrespective of age), give my seat on a bus to anyone who seems to need it, do not ask for senior discounts and if given it automatically I leave it in the tip. They need to extra money more than I do. Maybe we do need a Celebration of those that are 0 to 50 years of age. Even if qualified for that celebration, I would skip that it as well. Time to lighten up, folks!

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: May 19th, 2013 11:15 AM

Mr. Hubbuch's viewpoint is typical of baby boomers (1946-1964, 49-67 years old) ... it's all about me. There are 5,533 senior citizens living in Oak Park, or 11% of the population, most whom are parents of baby boomers. There is a severe lack of affordable assisted living, home health care, and geriatricians in OP. Hubbuch's viewpoint is contrary to OP's Diversity Statement, which includes age as an attribute to be protected against discrimination, along with race, gender and religion.

Matt Baron from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 18th, 2013 10:04 PM

John, I enjoy your column quite often. On this one, however, I have to quarrel with your statement that "No one really celebrates other age groups." The celebration of the young (however you define it---whether under 25, under40, and so on) barrages us daily in advertising and other forms of media. We don't say "Celebrating 20-somethings"--we just do it so much that it's like air---something we notice conspicuously by its rare absence. That all being stated, I'm going to try to Ken Trainor-ize you and nominate you for next year's "60 Over 60" class...he was the youngest of this year's class, after mentioning he'd reached the milestone birthday recently. You can decline the nomination, of course, but then you'd miss out on another column or series of columns about how you are grappling with this notion of celebrating seniors.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 17th, 2013 1:08 AM

The mantra you mistakenly assigned to the current group of seniors was coined by brit rocker Ian Drury in 1977. The 60's were more about bringing an end to the wars in southeast Asia. There are almost 60,000 names on a wall in Washington that offer testimony to the tragedy that cost so many lives. We also lost JFK, MLK and RFK but gained the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts, the Peace Corps and the War on Poverty, as well as witnessing the rise of the anti-war and feminist movements along with the first lunar landing. Easy to dismiss an entire generation as being consumed with free love while ignoring the significant accomplishments and sacrifices.


Posted: May 17th, 2013 12:08 AM

@ JH- "This celebrating old people probably started with The Greatest Generation." - Actually, John, celebrating seniors started thousands of years ago. But back then, they called them "elders." Though back then, anyone considered "old" had aged all of 35 to 45 years. Few people lived beyond that, for various reasons. But at least, back then, they focused less on physical "erosion" and more on what they had to offer to the collective prospects for survival, through their acquired life wisdom.

Susan Swatek from Poland  

Posted: May 16th, 2013 4:21 PM

First of all, surviving "sex, drugs and rock and roll" of the sixties is worth celebration. Second, some world cultures celebrate their seniors, even give up seats on the bus for them, now that is a bonus. Third, we seniors have "wisdom of the elders" and that should be given some honors. You know, the been there, done that knowledge that can still keep other people out of trouble. Embrace and celebrate your senior age because you seniors are cool. Get your boogey down all you seniors.

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