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Obsession for Youth Hurts Elderly

Sunil Dutta is an officer in the LAPD's West Valley Division

American culture is obsessed with youth. The message on commercials and advertisements is inescapable: Young is beautiful, being old is a disease.

Scientists consistently promise us that their research will reverse aging. Pharmaceuticals furnish us with pills and creams to remove wrinkles. We love the smooth and flexible skin of teenage bodies; we crave the strong muscles and high energy of youth.

Considering this obsession, I find it amusing that 28 Hollywood writers are bringing a class-action lawsuit against the pillars of the entertainment industry. Their complaint is “graylining"--discrimination against older scriptwriters.

Isn’t this a delicious irony? Hollywood writers who mold public opinion, put youth on a pedestal and put down elders, are themselves victims of an attitude they helped create.

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Our obsession with youth has created enormous problems. By not wanting to accept aging as a natural and human process, the elderly are treated as unwanted. We reject older people from our community at large and relegate them to retirement communities. We deprive ourselves of the wisdom and experience elders have accumulated over years. No wonder so many people are dependent upon psychologists and mood-altering drugs.

It is time to rethink our attitudes about aging. By honoring the human body as it grows older, develops wrinkles and slows down as the person inside the aging shell develops eccentricities and character, we honor ourselves as mature individuals.

I still remember sitting quietly with elders of my family, listening with awe as they recited Urdu poetry. We all need to sit with our elders and soak up their experience. Youth is just a passing phase; Let’s get over it.


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