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Ageless wisdom

Attending a family friend’s 95th birthday celebration Saturday again reminded me of the decades of accumulated wisdom our older generations possess.

Decades of experience through good times and bad, through war and peace, through everyday triumphs and tribulations has provided them a prism through which they can observe life in its many different facets.

In that respect, we may take a lesson from the Chinese, whose culture values age and experience rather than youth, as many western cultures do.

Before anyone rushes to pen and paper to accuse me of being harsh on American culture and values, I’m not saying respect for our elders does not exist here, far from it.

There’s no substitute for experience, but on the other hand, the innocence of youth provides a fresh canvas for objective expression of ideas free of influence from outside sources.

As a child, I remember Art Linkletter’s House Party, which aired on television from 1952 to 1969, and I remember fondly its most famous segment, “Kids Say The Darndest Things,” in which Linkletter interviewed schoolchildren ages 5-10.

The expression, “out of the mouths of babes,” certainly applied here, with an astonished Linkletter turning toward the camera surprised but smiling at the pearls of wisdom offered by his interview subjects.

We all learn something new every day, and my brain is still absorbing factoids, trivia and other information 24/7 in this digital age complete with instant media gratification.

What would happen if the worst would happen, if a freak solar storm interfered with the Earth’s magnetic field and knocked out much of the communication network worldwide?

What if we had to start from scratch and learn to communicate with each other face-to-face and person-to-person rather than through text messaging?

I suspect we would listen more than ever. We would express ourselves in the simplest of terms, much like a child, and we would again defer to the wisdom handed down by generations before us.

That’s a scary thought but interesting nonetheless.