With apologies to all senior citizens, (a civilized sobriquet if there ever was one) I am going to ask you a question:
What is the one word in English literature that occurs more frequently than any other directly after the words “crotchety,” “curmudgeonly,” or “cranky”? If you answered “old” you are quite correct. You’ll nearly always read “the crotchety old woman” or “that curmudgeonly old man”. I am certainly not suggesting that all senior citizens are crabby or cantankerous but apparently enough are to have earned the connection.
Apart from being a warning to us all to avoid acquiring those unpleasing characteristics as we age, it also raises a question. What in heaven’s name was in God’s mind with this verse:
You shall rise before the aged and show deference to the old;
you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.
Other than managing to survive for six (seven, eight, nine? Fill in the number of your choice) decades or more, what exactly has an ill-tempered old man done to deserve such respect? Therein lies an important insight from ancient Jewish wisdom. An old person might indeed be a bit grumpy and grouchy but he or she has seen a bit of life. If nothing else, the elderly have experienced more of life than people in their twenties. Why does that qualify them for such a level of respect?