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Old and Ornery    

Old and Ornery

Lusty young guys who never grow up inevitably become dirty old men. Traits like jealousy, greed and pessimism do not go away by themselves. A young bully becomes an old bully…


I recently read an article about bullying. Not in the schools though, and not in the workplace. This was talking about the bullying that goes on in nursing homes among the residents. In many old-age homes across the country, many senior citizens are behaving like nasty children.


The examples of bullying included haughty cliques that exclude others, gossip about newcomers, aggressive seat saving during activities, ganging up on residents who dare to challenge the hierarchy, cruel jokes, mocking and other forms of disparagement. The writer of the article said, “Thank God these people are not tech savvy. I shudder to think what would happen if they had Facebook.” It would be funny if it wasn't so pathetic.


I was initially horrified and found the story difficult to believe, but on second thought, not really. I recalled the time I visited my mother while she was in a nursing home. As I wheeled her towards an empty table in the lounge, she informed me that she wasn't allowed to sit there because certain people got angry if anyone took their “place.” She got so nervous I had to move her to a “neutral” table.


No one likes getting old. It is difficult to lose one's beauty, strength, health, independence and identity. Surrendering one's driver's license or one's home can be devastating and retirement is known to be hazardous to the health and well-being of many men and women.


Is it any wonder that a person who has lost so much would grab any sort of power, control or status possible?  And yet we would hope that by the time we are elderly, we would have given up the need to manipulate others, the craving for self-importance and the crass pleasure of gossip and snobbery.


The point is that if we neglect to rid ourselves of negative character traits when we are young, we will simply carry them with us into old age.


Some people grow old and wise and some people just grow old. In my work with the elderly it was often evident, dementia notwithstanding, that people just became more of their core. In general, the nice got nicer and the mean got meaner. As inhibitions fell away and people became less caring or even unaware of what others thought, their true selves became clear for all to see.


Contending with the evil inclination, in all its forms, begins at an early age. Learning to control our impulses and manage our emotions takes years of training, education and effort. A person has to want to evolve into a wholesome and pleasant human being. Shaking bad habits is a never-ending quest and the sooner begun the better.


Lusty young guys who never grow up inevitably become dirty old men. Traits like jealousy, greed and pessimism do not go away by themselves. Tactless, insensitive people remain that way unless they work on themselves and refine their characteristics. I can easily remember the one woman in the senior center I worked at, who no one ever wanted to sit with. She was nosy and caustic. Even her daughter didn't like her.


Living longer does not magically cure personality defects. We aren't like wine that just gets better as we age.


Someone who is humble, gracious to others and God fearing, was not born that way. He created himself and who he ends up being becomes the fruit of his labors.


We are all, in the end, a testimony to our own personal values, priorities and growth.


An unrepentant bully will remain a bully all his life.



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Rebbitzen Yehudit Channen is a certified Emuna Therapist for Breslev Israel. You can set up an appointment with her by contacting staff@breslev.co.il 

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  1 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks  
  Fantastic article, thank you!
Ahava6/14/2018 8:26:23 PM

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