24 August, 2017

Where the front arba will go…

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At the beginning of the 1980-s, when I had not yet reached the age of 30, we somehow gathered in a neighboring state farm with a fellow villager named Galym. He was much older than I by age. At the wheel of the car was his son, my peer, and friend. When I was getting in the car I rushed to the back seat as a front seat was usually served the elderly. Surprisingly, the words of that man uttered in an unbearable tone, stopped me. “Take the front seat! Your future is yet to come, there is nothing to back off, try to move forward. For those old men like me, the back seat is enough”, – he said and opened the back door of the car. I must say, then the man was not yet sixty.

At that time, I did not attach much importance to what had happened. Perhaps the reason for this was the inability of the young age to see the deep meaning of what is happening, to catch the subtext of what was said. Meanwhile, such cases, though rare, but still taking place in those years, showed that under certain circumstances older people also give way to younger ones, and not just younger ones. The elderly of that period used to say: "We have outlived ours, now it's up to the young ones."

More than thirty years have passed since that time.  Now we ourselves have reached that "old-age" age, even stepped over it. Maybe that's why we I wonder now whether we are able to show our seniority and knowledge of life in today’s reality when everyone is concerned only with their own benefit and everyone is trying to show how important he is. Are we able to behave like that man or will we exclaim “Hey, boy, where are you climbing, it is too early for you to sit forward, go back,"?

These doubts, I must say, are not groundless. About 10-15 years ago I took part in a Kyz uzatu (wedding party organized by relatives of a bride) that was held in Astana. As is usually the case with Kazakh weddings, despite the fact that the toasts almost one to one copied each other, all speakers continued to speak their wishes with unquenchable ardor. Suddenly, in the midst of the event, one aksakal (a person of old age) stood up demonstratively and left the room.  Seated next to him looked at him in bewilderment. "What happened? Why did he leave? "- whispered around. As it turned out, the man left, resenting the hosts for not giving the toast among the first. I do not know what others thought, but to me this act seemed self-centered, belittling the dignity of an elderly person. After all, it would seem, is not it all the same, when will you speak? Moreover, I have never seen that someone gave a wonderful and unique speech, which amazes people around. All of us use as "Be happy", "Have many children", “Joy and peace to your family”. Of course, these are not bad wishes.

But, how is it perceived and how relevant, when we repeat the same word tens, hundreds of times? To be honest, it is pretty tiring and wastes a lot of time. Besides, no one listens attentively to an endless string of words.

Nevertheless, weddings and repetitive toasts are not the main subjects of this piece of writing. Our goal is to contemplate on what is human dignity, in what cases and in what way it should be manifested. If it was more often manifested in the behavior and character of the elderly, then, undoubtedly, it would become an example for the younger ones, who have little life experience. Apparently, the saying "Where the front arba goes, and the back arba goes too” has been used in this matter.

What should the youth do if the representatives of the older generation, who seem to have seen a lot of things and have known in their own time, do not know what they are doing?

Sometimes we take offense at the modern youth, accuse it of being ill-mannered, and lack of respect for the elders. I must say, indeed, there are guys and girls who can push the old man's shoulder along the way and do not rush to give way to him in public transport. But if the growing generation grows soulless,

does it mean that we failed to show a worthy example? What to do in this case? Have we ever thought about this?

I once again remembered the aksakal, who sat in the back seat, giving me the front, next to his son

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