Sunday, November 17, 2013

post for comments (sorry i'm posting a bit late)

on our first reading of the analects there was an interesting discussion on the chüng-tzu, jen (ren) and reverence (jing) particularly in the case of our treatment of the elderly.

what's on your mind? say it.


Anonymous said...

Where to begin? I think perhaps this topic of the elderly might be of some interest to us.

I do not know too much about the treatment of the elderly in our society but if these so-called "homes" live up to their reputation, what a terrible disservice we are doing to ourselves!

Why is this important in zen? We have already come across a couple of lines that preach of reverence to the elders. I, however, should like to problematise this reverence, and argue for the devil.

Why should we revere our elders? Perhaps some of them. But by virtue of them being elderly have they been accorded any attributes or properties not hitherto present? I do not think so. Certainly one may speak of experience! But let us not forget that the fool experiences much and he too may grow old!

In fact, a fool is someone who has experiences but does not learn anything from them. You could make the case that the elderly are more likely to have wisdom and knowledge from their experiences but in doing so you imply that what really makes them admirable is not their simple age but the likelihood that they're more wiser for it.

Jose Giron
PS I love my grandparents.

atRifF said...

agree jose, grandparents are given a special advantage by nature and become the better for it --as good aged whiskey.

Vini Giannattasio said...

You said that Confucianism focuses on the present rather than the past. True, but causality implies that the present is the manifestation of the past. I think that Easter society understands the centric role of the grandparents in the definition of the present. Maybe, that is why the elders are revered rather than chastised in such society.
In Western society, however, the present is defined by the future. That is where self-realization crumbles. Our capitalistic lives are perpetually focused outwardly into the next purchase. We define our Egos and fulfill the Abyss inside by acquisition. In our greed, we forget what we already have and where we came from. Self-realization manacles self-definition is a teleological paradigm. The future does not exist.
We ostracize the elders because they remind us of where we have come from. They define who we are, not who we want to be. They require a selfless definition of the self-image. We are simply not prepared to entertain such quandary. I blame not capitalism, but the concept of evolution. Not Darwinian, scientific evolution. I can not care less how giraffes got a long neck; there is no question in my mind my sister came from a monkey!!! The problem is the metaphysical concept that the universe fallows a path of “improvement.” This is against Chaos and the sheer fact that the Universe is expanding. There is no evolution, there is progressive manifestation. All is a reflection of the first cause. The elders are a reflection of such, as they are the last cause. We come from monkeys indeed!!! Me, I rather believe I am a nephilim, and I shall honor my uncle when he gets even older. Hopefully, my sister will honor me in turn. Also, that is another reason we are in life for ourselves in the West: our education is so poor we can not trust on the next generation to help us because they keep getting worse. I guess I'll start giving her fresher bananas and hope for the best....

Anonymous said...

Based on our discussion about the elderly in last week’s class, I can say that I agree with Professor Triff’s very passionate argument about how we as a society basically leave the elderly in a dump (nursing home), instead of taking responsibility and caring for them. I, like Jose, love my grandparents and I like many old people! The idea of being in a nursing home definitely does not seem like what I want for myself when I grow old…doesn’t seem to be really much like what anybody wants. However, what if I were to tell you that some people actually WOULD like to be in a nursing home?

Let’s problematize like we always do. This isn’t even hypothetical, so here goes. Many times my mother has told me that when she gets older, if I could not take care of her and she wasn’t really capable of doing much for herself-to leave her in a nursing home because, to her, that’s better than being a burden. She said that after everything she’s worked for to raise us (my siblings and I), she would at least want us to be the most healthy and successful that we could be-especially me who suffers from mental illness which may or may not get better as I too, grow older.

Let’s say my mother, who suffers from depression and fibromyalgia, continues to get worse, and my siblings are out of the picture. I may take care of her for a while but, what if I inherit a trait where my mental illness does not get better, but instead worse as hers would have gotten. At that point-we would both be ill so it would clearly be wrong to continue trying to take care of somebody when I can’t even take care of myself. Let’s add more to this….what if my mother developed Alzheimer’s, and I continued down on a spiral to my depression-becoming overcharged with suicidal thoughts. One day, I lose my mother and can’t find her for days…I commit suicide, and later she is found by the police and returned home safely. By home, I mean nursing home because I’m gone and she has nobody left to care for her. Then what?

I know that I went a little dark and used an extreme example but, darnit, sometimes extreme things happen! Sometimes you can try all you want but something may get in the way from you protecting your loved one. I have no intentions of ever leaving my mother in a nursing home. However, I have no intentions on judging a person’s actions when the situation may be more complex than it really seems.

-Veronica Gomez Musa

Anonymous said...

Something I wanted to ask two classes ago, but was not able to get fully across, was comparing how elders were seen two thousand years ago compared to now. I don't want to sound or seem insensitive,I respect, live and love my grandparents and have personally believe that the elderly, or anyone for that manner who cannot take care of themselves should be cared for and treated with the utmost dignity, respect and compassion.

Two-thousand years ago and not so long ago as well, it wasn't too common to meet an 80 year old, as compared to today. Is it that people back then saw elders are a rarity, if not a testament to human endurance and ability? It must have been a feat for someone to live that long a few generations back.
Now with modern medicine and technology, the average life expectancy has pretty much sky-rocketed and the number of people over the age of 80 has been magnetized compared to what it must have been just two or three generations back.
Could it be that we used to see elders as rare treasure troves of wisdom and experience, yet now see them as obsolete, weak and dependent old-children (I don't wish to offend, that's not what I think)?
Can it have to do with the quantity of elders today when compared to now?

-Manny Alonso
( I feel like I'm gonna get bi%@*ed at for this)

Anonymous said...

This reading struck a cord with me and I'll reveal why.
On September 21st my only remaining grandfather passed away quite suddenly. Now, we had drifted apart in recent years so there was some distance between us now, but growing up he played a big role in my life.
I believe we discussed the importance of living in a nuclear family household. Now even though I never lived with my grandparents, my grandfather came to the house every Sunday until I was around 18, bringing homemade bread and home cooking. He made jokes with my brother and I told us stories of his past as an engineer for NASA. Simply put it was ritualistic and provided structure during my childhood.

Now he had been living in a retirement community, had his own house and car as well as friends to surround himself. When he passed I couldn't help but feel that I should have been more involved in his life, but what happened was supposed to happen and I have accepted that.
Learn and grow!

Understanding where you come from is not necessary to growth, but it helps.


Anonymous said...

In general i think of nursing homes completely terrible places that make you feel disturbed when in there, it is inhumane and not every elder should be placed there. It is as though those elders no longer have free will and every day is planned out for them not in a way they prefer. now I am contradicting this because one thing is that sometimes we may not have the acquired skills to care for an elderly, perhaps your mother suffers of paralysis or can only eat through a tube...then there are nurses trained for these tasks to assist them so what better place with 100% care and nurses then a nursing home? I think that would be the acceptance to the rule in my point. But personally I wouldn't want to ever stick my grandparents in a place like that I would feel as if I've neglected them.


Anonymous said...

I honestly don't know where to begin on this one. There's so many different aspects on this topic to discuss, but here it goes.

When we're talking about the elderly in terms of family, lets say parents,grandparents or guardians, they've been the ones who've cared for you and been in your life since you were born. They fed you, changed you, bathed you, and tended to your every need so you could become the healthy being that stands today. Without their care, where would you be?

Now, lets say that when they get older that they can't take care of themselves anymore. I'm not saying that everyone can and is willing to do this, but ideally, wouldn't it be your responsibility to take care of them? They took the duty to take care of you for, lets say, at 16 years of your life. Isn't it your responsibility to take care of them as they did you? I'm not saying that it's not tedious to tend to an elderly parent, especially in the "hustle and bustle" life style we live today, but you owe them at least that. They took care of you for 16 years, and even more, why wouldn't you take care of them for as long as they live. Even if you take care of them, it won't be for as long as they took care of you and even then, you're not fully "repaying" them.

I know some are going to think, how and why should I stop living my life, pursing my dreams to tend to my elderly parents when there's a place that will do it for me. Didn't some of our parents have to stop pursing their goals to take care of us. I know mine have. For example, my mother immigrated here because she thought this country would have better opportunities. She stopped being a teacher to come here. When she did come here, finished getting her GED, and started to learn English and go to college to once again become a teacher, she had to stop to take care of me. She didn't even want to put me in a daycare (mind you the conditions of a daycare compared to a nursing home)because she wanted to fully take care of me. I can't speak for everyone, but I've thought it over many times before and I'm willing to put my life on hold to take care of my parents if needed.

In other countries sons and daughters wouldn't blink an eye when it comes to taking care of their parents when the times comes. Why is it so difficult for our society to do the same, to make the sacrifice? They also have things they have to put on hold. We're not the only ones with aspirations and daily tasks.

I've gone to see people in nursing homes before. I don't know if I'm just very sensitive but I was on the verge of tears. Seeing so many elderly, people who are daughters, sons, fathers, grandfathers, human, be so lonely, not given the affection they deserve. Some probably think that they are given a better life in a nursing home because they're given their medicines on time, get to participate in activities and even get some light exercise in. I don't think that. I know what's best for my parent. I know their likes, I know their habits. Who better to take care of them than I? Even if they might live less because they're not getting the right amount of light exercise or whatever reason it might be. I'd rather them live in a loving environment than to live in some nursing home. Can you even call living in such a place living?

I wish I had the opportunity to have met my grandparents, to learn from their wisdom, to bask in their experience. Even if they weren't wise, just hearing their experience you can learn what they couldn't, see what they were too stubborn to see.

Come to think of it, I see why television shows like The Simpsons show their grandpa as always being bitter when they go visit him at the nursing home. Hell, I'd be on the same boat.

~Katherine Davila

Anonymous said...

In the bible it says "honor thy mother and father", I say honor all, men, women and children.


Anonymous said...

Personally, I think the most important point was mentioned by the professor in class Thursday, (after the discussion on Tuesday) when he brought up that this is a fairly recent problem from society. I agree. But at the same time I wonder how my grandparents would deal with their grandparents.

As I brought up in class nursing homes can be a double edge sword sort of speak. They could help your Alzheimer patient parent to have a more safe life but they can also be very damaging to a person’s quality of life if you experience something like professor.

This discussion was definitely eye opening since we all hope to grow old and certainly do not wish to be suffering in a nursing home. Me personally I hope I raise my children the proper way so they feel like I can contribute in their life and have an impact with my grandchildren. Even though this is coming from a “perfect world” point of view when I’m healthy my kids grow up in the proper environment etc. Obviously this will be very difficult.

I can definitely say that I certainly hope my father and mother live for much longer and having them in my kid’s life will be a priority in my personal goals as a father figure. The wisdom that can be share to my kids by my parents it’s a treasure that I will never be able to give them.

I only met 3 of my 4 grandparents and I have nothing but great memories from them. ☺

Francisco Baumgarten

Anonymous said...

as many of my other classmates, i'm not sure where to begin with this topic.

I believe that there are so many factors that play into our treatment of the elderly and the expectations that have been put on us regarding the care that we give them. My question is, in confucianism when talking about our "duty" to take care of our elders do we take into consideration the person our elders have been and how they have treated us? Or do we simply do it because it must be done? If my mother mistreated me my entire life is it really my responsibility to take care of her in her older years?

My response to that would be no.

I personally do not feel like we owe our elders anything if they in turn have not acted accordingly with us or with the people that we love. Just to give you an example, I only had 1 grandparent growing up my entire life (my father's mother) and i loved and respected that woman until the day she passed away because she was always a great mother and showed my brother and i unconditional love even after my parents separated and my father went to prison. On the other hand, I met my grandfather (my father's dad) only once in my life in Puerto Rico and have never heard from or seen that man ever again. He abandoned my father when he was younger and never took an interest in my brother or myself. I have no respect for that man and therefore him being my elder means nothing to me.

Of course, i am talking about the treatment of the elderly as it relates to our individual personal lives. When looking at it from a sociological stand point it takes me to the conversation we had in class on Tuesday regarding what is expected in our particular society. If you are sitting on the bus with no open seats and an older man/woman hop on with you, do you give up your seat simply because they are older? In this case you, don't know who they are so obviously you cannot dictate your treatment of them based on the content of their character. Instead, the mere fact that they are older than you leads you to most likely give them your seat.

It is a matter of age here, not wisdom.

Continuing on with what we spoke about on Tuesday, i'd like to open up the discussion we had on what is considered the "norm" in our society as far as our treatment of women and what we consider to just be an act of good manners.

I think it's all very contextual. If a man opens the door for a woman, it can be seen as either good manners or interpreted as an act that presupposes women are weak and fragile. On the other hand, if i open the door for my girlfriend on a consistent basis does that too leave room for the possibility that i am doing it because i perceive her as being fragile, even though we are both women?

What's the difference between a man and woman doing it?

-Valerie Figueroa

fabio.v said...

First off, i'd like to say that I understand what Confucianism wishes to elicit. Norms do change, they are not so much a function of time, but more so a function of human change or progression. However, one should never construe norms as objective notions for it is within a norm's nature we, find it to be malleable. Meaning, a norm make take shape however we deem fit. For example, gender, which was a topic brought to light, does not exist in the natural world. It is merely a human construct; a social paradigm forged by the intuition of men. Gender cannot be found in the natural world, but sexes can. As in for sexes, Male and Female organisms wander this earth numerously and prodigiously. Therefore gender is not a fact, it is not something that exists. If an intelligent life form comparable to humans were to land on this earth, we would not be able to assign them a gender. Holding a norm on par with a fact is precisely how discrimination begins. From the differences concerning race, to sexes and nowadays tacit discrimination of the elderly.
Anyone who wishes to challenge this notion, before you do so, read VIRGINIA WOOLF!

Anonymous said...

Squeezing in at the last second...
In regarrds to the feminist argument we had the other day in class, I want to go off of what Laz said... "Honor all, men, women and children." I will hold the door open for a man or woman, old or young, sick or healthy. I wouldn't let the door slam in your face just because you have a penis. Its more of a humanitarian outlook on the argument. Just show some manners and help out the fellow HUman.

I'm late for class.
I'll talk more about it there.
-Manuel Valdes

Martin Gross said...

As seen from a Confucian standpoint the family unit is one of an extended family. Revering and honoring one’s parents and grandparents is seen the core aspect of society. For it is felt that the wisdom that is gained from parent and grandparent is the element that creates harmony in society. Unfortunately in modern western society it is extremely difficult to accomplish this, this I know from personal experience.