Asian Oldsters

There’s this recurring trope in the West about Asian cultures’ respect for their elders and reverence for the wisdom of the aged. This is invariably presented as some kind of positive. Generally in that slightly fucked way that Western ignoramuses use Asia to highlight and juxtapose what they dislike in their own culture.

It’s mostly true that Asians have a lot of respect for the aged and their elders. But why is this automatically regarded as such a good thing?

Sure, we should value and respect the aged. But there are limits.

It’s all well and good to value your elders, up until you’re dealing with a syphilitic oldster with a head crammed full of superstition and prejudice dictating how everyone in their family has to live their lives.

Think of your most ignorant, racist, and belligerent family elder, and then imagine living in a culture where you must take everything they say seriously. Where what they say goes. And you are expected to live with and care for them until they die.

I had a Japanese student who told me her aunt couldn’t get married because her fiance was from a part of her own town that her grandfather hated. He was convinced that everyone from “over there” were thieves and rapists. End of story.

Sure, she could have disregarded him and gotten married anyway. But she was a good woman and decided to respect her elders as she was supposed to do. These things cut both ways.

Just keep in mind that being Asian doesn’t make Asian oldsters any less unpleasant than oldsters anywhere else.

Just saying.

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