“We are a culture that idolizes youth. We want to live forever. But we are terrified of getting old. Age discrimination can happen to you. It probably will.” – Heather Bussing

Age is the one protected class that everyone will be in eventually, if you’re lucky.  Age discrimination can happen to you. It probably will.

We are a culture that idolizes youth. We want to live forever. But we are terrified of getting old. Age discrimination lives in that paradox.

It’s like a 17-year-old girl’s look of disgust and horror as she watches an 8-month pregnant woman heave her swollen, awkward body out of the car, and waddle in the store. We are afraid we will be like that. So we reject anything that reminds us it will happen.

photo of Heather Bussing on HRExaminer.com in black and white

Heather Bussing, HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board

We are also hard-wired to discriminate. We are built to feel comfortable with things that are familiar, and to be afraid of things that are different. We naturally divide the world into good and bad, us and them, safe and not safe.

It may have been great for the survival of the species, but it doesn’t work so well now that we don’t have to worry about being lion snacks.

As a result, we often don’t even know our own biases.

But just because we naturally filter things and get comfortable with our assumptions, doesn’t mean we’re stuck. We can change the way we think and get over our fear, our bias, and ourselves. We can get curious instead of comfortable. We can have compassion instead of consternation. And we can have courage instead of cowardice.

And age discrimination is the perfect place to start because it’s going to happen to you.

The great secret that all old people share is that you really haven’t changed in seventy or eighty years. Your body changes, but you don’t change at all. And that, of course, causes great confusion.  ~Doris Lessing

Read previous post:
The Problem with Values

Often ignored words and platitudes in values statements can become a powerful force when they are practiced and defended with...