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The Wisdom of our Elders

"The wisdom of our elders is a priceless gift, a guiding light that illuminates our path and reminds us of the strength and resilience that lies within us."

After the failure of the recent referendum in Australia, I was so heartbroken that I threw myself into doona therapy while bingeing on MAFS UK. I felt so disappointed for our First Nations people, and I knew if I was feeling this way, many of them would be feeling let down. When MAFS was not easing my pain, I reached out to three First Nations Aunties and one of them picked up my call.

The wise, no nonsense Aunty Shirl's warm tone greeted me at the other end. I really didn't know what to say to her and I realised that even though it was her community that was grieving, I was looking to her to comfort me. Her defiant and rebellious response gave me the comfort I needed.

At the same time, we were being bombarded by images of impending war in the Middle East, and even though I do my best to avoid watching the news, it seeped through my social media feed with outraged comments on both sides demonising the other.

Again, my heart felt heavy, and I felt that deep soul sickness when you realise not only how overwhelming the situation is but also how powerless you are to affect change.

Who do I talk to? What do I say? I love that idea that my mother lives by, "If you don't know what to say, say nothing".

Once again, I reached out to one of my treasured elders, an archetypal crone figure in my life. A Jewish woman married to a Palestinian man. I always think about her at times like this. I cried and told her how sorry I was for her family and communities. As I offered my condolences, I could not shake off the feeling that I was making her responsible for my comfort.

Her husky voice which felt like it was wrapping me in silk, said, "Faith, stay off social media and pray for us." Simple and the perfect medicine.

When the world feels like it's going crazy, which sadly seems to be the case more and more, I go to those who have been on the planet longer than me and have navigated and come through more difficult situations than I have. Those who have survived what appears to be insurmountable circumstances and lived through heart-wrenching grief and disappointment.

The Silver Sirens community is made up of diverse beliefs and opinions so I am not expecting that you will agree with all of my views but what I love about our community is that we can each be true to ourselves while still supporting each other in our ageing journey.

I am passionate about highlighting the wisdom of our elders as I believe that in difficult times, our elders, if given the opportunity can play a wise and comforting role in our families, community, and in society as a whole.

Below are more ways our elders can support us during difficult times:

1. Wisdom and guidance: Our Elders have a wealth of life experience and wisdom that can be invaluable during difficult times. They can provide guidance and advice based on their own experiences, helping younger generations navigate challenges and make informed decisions.

2. Emotional support: Our Elders often serve as a source of emotional support for their families and communities during difficult times. They can offer a listening ear, empathy, and understanding, providing comfort and reassurance to those who are struggling.

3. Stability and resilience: Our Elders can be a source of stability and resilience during difficult times. Their ability to remain calm and composed in the face of adversity can help instill a sense of strength and hope in others. Their presence can also provide a sense of continuity and tradition, reminding people of the resilience of previous generations.

4. Preserving cultural heritage: Our Elders often hold valuable knowledge about cultural traditions, customs, and history. During difficult times, they can play a crucial role in preserving and passing on this cultural heritage to younger generations, ensuring that important traditions and values are not lost.

5. Advocacy and leadership: Our Elders can use their influence and experience to advocate for the needs and rights of their communities during difficult times. They can serve as leaders, speaking up for those who may not have a voice and working towards positive change.

6. Role models: Our Elders can serve as role models for younger generations, demonstrating resilience, compassion, and strength in the face of adversity. By embodying these qualities, they inspire others to persevere and overcome challenges.

Overall, our elders play a vital role in difficult times by providing wisdom, emotional support, stability, cultural preservation, advocacy, and leadership. Their contributions help communities navigate through challenging periods and emerge stronger.

Traditional and First Nations societies understand the value of their elders. Statement from 2023 NAIDOC theme:

NAIDOC 2023 celebrated the Elders of our community, our old people who offer their time in caring for our Jarjums and our community. Our Elders bring mob together in times of joy, celebration and during times of grief. They are also our most important teachers.

If you are privileged to have elders in your life, I hope you treasure every moment you have with them.

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