Seniors: Staying Intellectually Curious

Aug 5th, 2010 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Aging excuses noone from seeking out answers, asking questions, probing the issues that are peculiar to our times.  Intellectual curiosity is a healthy habit, which allows for persons to wonder at the obvious. Seeking credible evidence that there are major concerns out there requiring an intgelligent assessment, a ready willingness to ask questions are worthy undertakings.   This is no ordinary time, though some would treat it as such.  The really old fashioned folk of this era are those who are non progressive, who refuse to see that the rules have changed, the dynamics are in flux, the circumstances of our time are in a constant boil.  Our children and grandchildren need us to be more intensely alert, more willing to push for answers, more committed to challenge leaders in every venue to do something about what will surely make a difference in the immediate decades ahead. 

But, as some demonstrate, they are both too lazy, too frightened, and too lacking in intellectual curiosity and courage themselves.  They refuse to ask the probing questions because they are too caught up in protecting their own immediate, short term self interest. 

Some criticize for raising such concerns in Senior Citizen Journal.  They suggest we need to be purists and deal only with issues of aging. Is this not one?  Is asking questions no longer a perrogative of those who are older, hopefully wiser, and certainly curious? Does the future, does what happens today not affect us, as surely it affects those we love?  Is being indifferent and unattached a quality?  I think not. Shall we turn our heads and close our ears and eyes to all that is happening around us, assuming somehow it will go away, solve itself, have little to do with us and our own?

The Global Climate issues are a classic example.  Many would deny, rationalize and completely oppose any genuine intellectual understanding of the dimensions of this dynamic.  Many behave as if it is 1910, not 2010 .  How does one shut out the present, engage in pretense and simply slide by from day to day without acknowledging what is happening right before our eyes?  Read, study, inquire, look, ask… these are the criteria for intellectual curiosity.  It is as if all the forecasts are for impending and devasting storms and we switch the channel to something that won’t offend or threaten us.  Some, whom I know, behave as if all these concerns are simply opinions.  You are entitled to yours and I am entitled to mine, spending little to no time or energy researching, winnowing from among all the volume of information now extant.  Sad!  The train is on the track and is heading, at full speed, directly toward us. Perhaps hoping the train will stop in time is a strategysufficent to those who are willing to risk that.  For those, who believe in preventative care and attention this is not a wise choice. 

This is no “sky is falling” prediction.  It is a condition of our times, prompted by choices and decisions, policies and practices that have contributed (and continue to do so) putting us right in the middle of it.  No amount of Pollyanna psychology will change the alive and kicking circumstances that are now right in our midst. Stir up your own intellectual curiosity, decide you aren’t intimidated by information, choose to be a critical thinker.  Our world has faced many shattering possibilities, from world wars to crumbling institutions, we thought we could not live without.  Surely, we can find creative ways to confront and manage the issues of our time in ways that will be productive and lasting. Let us open our minds to find out how!



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