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Ageism Affects Us All

Written by Alex Koroknay-Palicz Feb 05, 2006

I just had a particularly illustrative experience at church today that I’d like to share. Half-way through the mass a group of people arrive quite late and sit down in the pew behind me. From the moment they sat down they were being incredibly obnoxious. Talking, swearing, making jokes, laughing. They didn’t shut up for the whole mass.

I was gradually getting more and more annoyed with them. I couldn’t clearly make out most of what they were saying, but it was still loud enough that I, and I’m sure people a row or two in front of me could hear them. I never turned around to get a look at them, but the entire time I was picturing guys & girls in their late teens & early twenties. The guys were definitely being worse than the girls, but they were all being obnoxiously loud and disruptive.

I sat there thinking of what I should do. Whether I should just get up and move, or tell them to shut up, or turn around and deck them, hehe. Then I was picturing these obnoxious guys getting mad and causing trouble with me outside (ya know, as young punks are known to do). By this point I was thinking “bring ’em on”. I still decided not to cause a scene and just wait for everything to be over, which may or may not have been the best course of action, but its not really the point of the story.

Later in the mass, after the Our Father, when we all shake hands with those around us I got a chance to turn around and see who these obnoxious bastards were. It was a family. Mother, daughter, father, son. The kids were around middle school aged, the parents were maybe in their mid to late 30’s. All four of them were being loud and obnoxious.

This whole time I was picturing a group of folks in their late teens and twenties and it turned out to be a family of kids AND parents who were causing the problem. Very interesting. Even I, as enlightened a youth rights crusader as I am, had ageist assumptions. I’m just pointing this out as an example of how entrenched ageism is and how it clouds the judgment of even the best of us. Overcoming it will be a long but necessary struggle.

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