Are the elderly really wiser than younger generations?

@ulalume (714)
United States
January 19, 2009 8:11am CST
I was just thinking about past experiences with elderly people, and while I definitly respect most of them; I am wondering, are they really as wise as society would have us think? I guess the first question I propose is, what is wisdom, really? For myself, I am beginning to think that being "wise" is relative. I all to frequently hear the elderly being deemed "wise" just because they are "old" and have "life experience." Is this, in itself, wisdom? I feel I am wiser in some respects on account that I understand todays generation more. Elderly people can certainly enlighten younger people in regards to the past (and I am in no way implying that the elderly are stupid, either, mind you); but is knowledge of the past equal to being wise? Are not younger people and older people both more similar than not? Sometimes I feel like society is trying to have older people council (for lack of better words) younger individuals, but it is not really necessary. In a way, could "wisdom" be something not attained by a single individual but a group effort? Would not a person be more wise if they understood the here and now as well as the past? Would they not be the wisest of persons if they understood the future, in some way, as well? I would like to hear other opinions!
3 people like this
17 responses
@1corner (744)
• Canada
19 Jan 09
Well, I'm with you here. While we've all been taught to respect the elderly, it doesn't mean they always display wisdom. To me, they should, however, as they've lived longer and therefore have way more experience than the young. Having said that, though, it's important to consider their knowledge as well. The world has gone through so much change and so rapidly since the beginning of the 20th century, it's not easy to keep up with all these. For one to be wise, you must have knowledge first. Wisdom after all is the PROPER application of knowledge.
1 person likes this
@ulalume (714)
• United States
20 Jan 09
I definitly agree with you. It is not disrespect that I am looking for in regard to the elderly (they deserve respect and to a degree reverence), however I suppose I am mostly questioning the wisdom of these people on account of the fact that society would inadvertantly imply that I contain meerly stupidity. I think the world has changed in so many ways, some blatantly obvious and in other ways very subliminally. I do not see many elderly people keeping up with things I find to be able to become knowledgable relatively easily. Though, I am not entirely sure if knowledge of technology and what not in itself allows someone to be knowledgeable, due to the fact that computers in themselves do not breed knowledge. I suppose the most complex part of this is really defining what wisdom is.
@1corner (744)
• Canada
20 Jan 09
Point taken from your initial post. And good for you. I myself certainly won't espouse disrespect of anyone, let alone the elderly, unless their/anyone's behavior invites or calls for it. Also, the term "deserving" is something I'd apply to those who've earned it. Being born a generation or more ahead of you doesn't qualify them for that. And perhaps "reverence" too is a strong word; "honor" would be more suitable. By knowledge I didn't mean in technology alone. There have been a lot of inroads made in science and health that for sure would benefit the elderly. Knowledge gained from life lessons through the differing mores and values that develop with each decade matter too. As far as the definition of wisdom goes, I simply go by what I wrote above. I believe if one is wise, his/her life naturally becomes better, and they become better people. If one is unwise/a fool, you shouldn't expect to see any improvement at all in how one lives. I've noticed the same thing myself - that the youth are usually not accorded a higher regard by most of the elderly. Yet by the same token, you have to concede many young people do make foolish mistakes and can tend to be arrogant too. I've already lived perhaps half my life, and can definitely appreciate the differing points of the two.
1 person likes this
@1corner (744)
• Canada
23 Jan 09
Thanks for the BR. It's a much-appreciated surprise.
@messageme (2821)
• United States
19 Jan 09
I think in the past this use to be true, but now days everything has changed so much and the older generation has not kept up. I'm sure there are many younger people that can teach the older generation many of things. Experience wise, Yes the older generation has us beat and they always will because obviously they have experienced much more than us.
1 person likes this
• Hong Kong
19 Jan 09
Older people are always considered to be wiser than younger ones, because they have more experience in life. Not just because of their years of experience ahead of us, but also because they know how to react under certain circumstances. They are GENERALLY more mature, stable than the GENERAL youngsters. That's why they are always esteemed. Of course, there are some young ones who can make decisions as wisely as the elderly, but they are the minority. I form my opinion above through my own experience. When I was a bit younger, I tended to act rash, immature and a bit straightforward. But when I get more experience in life, I would think twice before I act and possibly make a better decision. I think that's what people call "life experience". Older people are not in all cases wise, but we can refer to their opinion or experience as a reference when we need help.
@ulalume (714)
• United States
20 Jan 09
But would you deem the life situations that the younger generation face to be different than those situations the elderly grew up and experienced? Obviously there are some similarities, but do you think the winds of change have also come in a way? This is kind of how I feel, to a degree at least.
• Hong Kong
20 Jan 09
Of course, what the younger generation faces today is different from that of the elderly. So, while we can always respect older people's opinion, we should also have a critical mind to analyze and make the right decision based on our different situation.
@hanson67 (35)
• United States
20 Jan 09
Their is no real answer to that. It all depends on how a person was educated growing up. They just assume that the elders have been around much longer to know whats right and wrong and some do know some things. Example: you could be a educated college student and meet some 60 year old homeless dropout. Who seems to be the most wiser one?
@ulalume (714)
• United States
20 Jan 09
Well, that is the variable here that no one seems to ever look at. I suppose to extend it though, I have met quite a few older people who had to drop out to assist the family by working. I suppose in this case it is not really a matter of "wisdom" but doing what is necessary to survive.
@Gwapako_28 (2142)
• Philippines
20 Jan 09
YES! I say this yes in all capital letters because it was tested and proven by myself. I dont think i am very much old. Do you think am old enough with my age 30 right now? But you know what? When i was in my younger age like high school days and college days, all my decisions are very much easy and i choose things like a blink of an eye. I dont even think about the consequences that might happen if i am gonna do this and that. I always think emotionally and physically. I dont think about future. But now a days, i may choose things easy but i always put it in the right time and situation and i let it sure that i could stand it and i can still change it if ever this is wrong. And i make sure that i wont suffer for my future. So, to all young ones, listen to old ones like me. Lol! Trust me, all the old ones that teach and advice you is for your own good and more brighter future.
• Japan
20 Jan 09
I think it depends. If they have learned from their life experiences then yes. If they are still making the same mistakes then no.
• Philippines
20 Jan 09
Are the elderly wiser than the younger generations? Before the age of the computer and the worldwide web, I would be inclined to say yes. But now? I feel that all bets are off. In fact the younger generations now have more access to information, knowledge and skills that the elderly may not have or may not be aware of. If the younger generations make full and appropriate use of the computer and the web, they are liable to become wiser earlier, at a younger age and in a shorter time than what it would have taken in the olden days, and to be wiser in more dimensions, topics and interests than previously possible.
@Tinna_He (300)
• China
20 Jan 09
maybe there have two sides.The elderly are wiser than younger henerations,but not always.yes,they younger generations read more books and learn more knowledge.they can have new mind to deal with something.But to the live, the olderly have more experience.The olderly said the salt which i ate are more than the rice which you ate.and they always are proud that the older ginger is more spicy. when i was young,i read a story.To the younger ,he has two road to choose.one is straight and flat.he can reach the aim soonest.the other is bend and difficult.He will wast many time to reach the aim.His parents stand at the aim and tell him"my child,the straight and flat way is good for you.please come here"but the younger said "i hope i can walk that way.it is challenging."the parents said,"the aim is same.why do you choose to wast your time.we come here by that way.do you think we will cheat you?"Regardless how efforts to persuade the parents did.the younger chose the bend and difficult way.when he reached the aim,he regret to say why i didn't hear my parent's advise.Maybe i can't express clearly.when i read the story ,i told my parents i will like that younger.Until i reached the aim,i also regret like the younger. So,my friend,when you make decision,please get more advice from the elderly.
@zhangrui (13)
• China
20 Jan 09
Experience definitely can create wisdom, even a philosopher said “Experience is the father of wisdom, and memory the mother". So bad for younger generation, they have not "father and mather", how can they grow? lol. It isn't reasonable to overstate the wisdom of older generation, it depend on individuals I think, there are many older idiot even if with 100 years old. Generally speaking, we can learn from elderly people to avoid repeated mistake and to refine our decision, but can't develop our society depending older generation's instruction. Meanwhile, young should create and summarize their own experience and wisdom in considering the real situation, thus society can be pushed into progress.
• India
20 Jan 09
Yes, they are. They maybe short of knowledge and the latest in education, but they are certainly way ahead in wisdom. You do appreciate that wisdom and knowledge or education are not the same things at all. The knowledge of past experiences may not be akin to wisdom but they certainly have more ideas than us on situation handling as because they have handled more situations than the young. Here I am talking of the general people we see around us and not comparing a jet-setting youngster with a village elder. I have also seen that in most cases, the predictions of elders in typical situations, come true more often than not. Whether its trusting somebody, or spending money, or taking decisions on household matters, the elderly seem to have a keen sense of foreseeing the inevitable…call it wisdom, call it experience…I believe in them.
@annjilena (5620)
• United States
20 Jan 09
this is not always true wisdom doesn,t always come with age.i have spoke with some young people that are very intelligent.so for sure wisdom doesn,t alway come with age.
• United States
20 Jan 09
I had a friend of mine that was real book smart,I seen him do homework and not even open a book,and get all a`s,but when it come to simple things he was lost.so I helped him with that and in turn he helped me with thing`s. common sense is a big roll in life.Life itself is the greatest teacher of all,as you get older,you will see just how smart your parents are.Why are they so smart you ask? because they have BEEN THERE DONE THAT. GOOD DAY!!
@lynnemg (4539)
• United States
19 Jan 09
I think that the experiences that the elderly gain in their lives, the lessons they learn and pass on to us younger generations does make them quite wise. Many elderly people are much more intelligent than we believe them to be. If you really listen to the stories that they tell, you will find the wisdom in their words too. IF we do not learn from the past, and learn from the exoeriences that the elderly have gone through, we are doomed to repeat it.
@ANTIQUELADY (36488)
• United States
19 Jan 09
at least we have enough sense not to think we know everything. common sense comes in pretty handy. i never thought i knew more than anyone but have gone through alot of experiences that i hope u young people never have to go through but u will & they may be worse. don't get your head too high in the sky.
@syeryn (574)
• United States
19 Jan 09
We raise each new generation to be technically smarter than the previous one but when it comes to wisdom, the elderly are the ones who are wise. Wisdom is only attained thruogh experience and the young do not have enough life experiences under them to be considered wise.
@sunita64 (6473)
• India
19 Jan 09
Elderly are more wise when questions pertaining to life situation comes. For example now we run for every ailment to doctor,but our elders always had home remedy for minor ailments and that used to be really effective. So some situations in life as elders have gone through them they are wiser. But when they come out in todays situations then they look towards the wisdom of children. For example if I have to change some tune in my mobile, I ask my nephew to do that as newer generation is more experienced to new gadgets. So it is both ways I feel.
@jillhill (37383)
• United States
19 Jan 09
There are so many thing that can't be learned in books...things you must learn along the way. Like dealing with people. Young people don't have the experience to learn when to speak and not to speak...they sometimes think they are smarter when in actuallity...some things just come with experience. Also I find for myself that the older I get..the more I do know. So saying that the elderly are wiser.....I think so. They are more content..knowledgable...and have skills that can only come from experience. Not to say that everyone that is older is wiser as some people keep on making the same mistakes and not learning from past ones. But for the most part, yes. I recieved an email about seniors...it said....a young man was standing next to an elderly gentleman. He was taunting the older man by saying that his generation had grown up with all kinds of new devices at their fingertips to give them more knowledge and availability to knowledge then the older mans' generation...the older man turned to him and said....well my generation invented them...what has your generation done?