The secret of an alliance
The phenomenon of an increasing elderly population is a general one, it concerns Europe, the developed world, but it also affects every part of the globe. One can speak of the emergence of a new continent: the Elderly Continent. The presence of many elderly, their longevity, is one of the better products of our time. Nevertheless, the presence of many elderly in our world is perceived by many as something to worry about. More and more often we hear of the "problem of the elderly": the elderly with their needs use up resources, represent a commitment of economic, social and health resources which is difficult to manage. .
Increasingly we witness the nature of a generational conflict that has, as its product, the frustration and the growing marginalization of many elderly in every part of the planet, who no longer feel part of the community of which they are members.
The Community of Sant'Egidio, has taken up the human and cultural challenge of returning the elderly fully into the human family where all the generations have a place, a role and a mission.
Indeed, the elderly ask a question of integration, of company, that is not only a demand for solidarity and social services. It is a question of full participation in social life. A “reconciliation” between the various generations is necessary: the young people and the adults need the elderly and vice versa. Without company, the elderly person finds it hard to live; by being marginalised he is condemned to die. But young people also need the elderly in order to understand the value of the life. A deep need of the elderly exists in daily life. The fragility of the elderly asks questions of a society in which weak people are left alone, drawing attention to the social nature of man and to the necessity of reweaving the human cloth which has often disintegrated. Restoring the elderly to full membership in society is a service that we could define “the human ecology”, i.e., that social equilibrium in which everyone can live better.
It’s not about idealising an age of human existence that brings many discomforts, forgetting the more problematic aspects of ageing with easy youthfulness. But rather it emphasises that physical decline and growing fragility can be accepted and faced if one is not alone. In the solidarity lived with the elderly we have seen that in this way we can help the elderly to serenely live their old age, receiving in exchange as a reward “a hundred times” the mothers and the fathers of Chapter 19 of the Gospel of Matthew