Listen to the Wisest of All is a collection of interviews with men and women aged 88 to 104 years old.
One thing that impressed me was the positive attitude many of the interviewees had toward their childhood even if they were raised in difficult circumstances, even poverty. They were proud of their own contributions to their families sustainability. They enjoyed simple things and appreciated what they had. Family, religion, and country were the three predominantly important influences on them. Gathering wealth, collecting expensive items, or garnering attention or a following was not of interest. Most importantly was contributing and acquiring independence and skill. These values are what a bold this generation to survive a world war and the Great Depression.
There were sweet stories of romance, some with happy endings, some with un-requited love.
The best part of the book was when we were reading the direct quotes. Biography is so much better when told directly from the source. However, the authors have done a wonderful job of helping the reader connect to the 14 people featured in this little book. Their observations, emotional responses, and interpretations have made this more than a factual account of events.
Each interviewee was asked what advice he would share with the younger generation. Many recommended showing respect for everyone. Pay attention to the little things. Don’t judge others. Health and contribute when you can, no matter how old you are.
Recurring themes were the concern over what seems to be eroded values in society. Many of the elderly frowned on overly revealing clothing, lack of personal communication between people, and undisciplined children.
The loss of innocence at such a young age due to the media was mentioned more than once. I share this concern. Childhood has shrunk to the blink of an eye. This is all the more apparent when listening to elders’ stories about the simple fun they had as children.
A book like this makes me wonder what kind of stories will be collected for my generation. It would be wonderful if this could be repeated every 20 years. What a fascinating chronology that would be.