By Rev. Fr John Damian Adizie, OCD
DO the elderly ones have any right? What are their ri-ghts? Who cares for them? How are we exp-ected to treat the older persons? Do we know that one day we all will be-come old? Do we even know that the way we treat the older persons today is the way the younger ones will treat us when we become old? If that is the case, we must prepare for our fu-ture by upholding the rights of the older pers-ons.
The Holy Father, Pope Francis once declared: “A people that do not have care for the elderly have no future: such a people lose their memory and roots.” The elderly per-sons are the visible me-mory of every society. They are the custodians of history and tradition. Without the older pers-ons one may not know where he is coming from and without knowing whe-re one is coming from one can hardly know where he is heading to. Any nation that neglects the elderly ones neglects her future.
Unfortunately there are so many challenges facing the older persons; such as discrimination, poverty and other abuses. Here in Africa urbanization has forced so many young pe-ople out of rural areas. Most of the older pers-ons are aband-oned in poor rural areas with poor water and power supply. The government does not even care. They are even adding to their sufferings by denying them their hard earned pensions and gratuity.
Considering the challen-ges facing the older per-sons and possible ways of safeguarding their rights, the United Nations has declared October 1st as International Day for Older Persons. The theme of 2018 International Day of Older Persons is “Celebrating Older Human Rights Champions“. One of the aims of this theme is to create awareness and promote the rights of older persons.
The Hebrew Bible declar-es: “Honour your Father and Mother, that your days may be long…” (Exodus 20:12). Any form of dishonour against the older persons leads to untimely death. According to the Islamic Quran: “And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of dis-respect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honour.” (Surah 17:23).
In his first letter to Timothy St. Paul declares: “Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as you would a father. Treat older women like mo-thers” (I Timothy 5:1).
Care for the Older Per-sons is indeed a care for oneself and for one’s future. Child of God, as you honour the Older Persons in your midst one day you will be honoured and it shall be well with you in Jesus name.