Living in this range of 28 years, I've noticed many things, of course. One of the more unfortunate things I've noticed is due much more attention than it receives. That thing is respect for our elders.
That last word, "elder" really helps put into perspective why disrespect for our elders remains is problem. The word "elder" is something many Americans fear becoming; to the point of ignoring it and becoming hostile in light of its discussion. Calling someone an "elder" can even be offensive.
In almost every day I am reminded of this fear when speaking to people. When I was a child I was taught not only to call older people "mam" and "sir," but people of the same age as a sign of respect. Now, no matter what a persons age if you were to call them "mam" or "sir" you may expect to be offending them.
People associate being old with being useless. Many younger people think old people are useless and even many older people think they're useless. This is a horrible situation. Unless you have the inability to think or are dead, then you are not useless. You may not be able to contribute in the ways you want, but you can still contribute. Even if you can't directly help the people you love you can help them by helping the world. Pick up a piece of litter off the ground. Even if in a small way, it undoubtedly makes the world a better place for them, no matter their problems.
Every generation will have a harder time finding respect for their elders when their elders don't have any respect for themselves. Our elders have much to teach us, though not always what we want to learn. Our elders may increasingly need our physical help, but we increasingly need their mental and spiritual help. If you don't think so and you think you have already understood everything, then you are either truly lost and do not see the world as it is or you are ready to lead us from this hell I consider ignorance into the heaven I know is enlightenment.
As long as we put so much attention on the outward beauty of mankind, respect for our elders and species as a whole will remain hindered. Old people must not be afraid to look as they are, old. Family, friends, acquaintances, neighbors, and others must go beyond reserving judgement due to skin, and reserve judgement for all appearances. If a man or a woman grow a beard, then still respect them. If a man or a woman has hair on their legs, then still respect them. If a man or a woman wear a dress, then still respect them. If a man or a woman have no hair, then still respect them.
We think that when we get old our lives are over, but as long as we have learned in those years, those experiences we can not give and receive are multiplied. As long as we refrain from ignorance and continue on with righteousness, hope, understanding and love as our guides then curiosity will know no bounds. We can not move ahead at full speed when we are looking in the mirror so much as half of the time. Our experience can not be stopped by a broken mirror.