Friday Book Club: “The Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism.”

April 24, 2020

Friday Book Club: “The Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism.”

May 29, 2023

If you haven’t seen Ashton Applewhite’s TED talk, I highly recommend it. But, if you want to understand her heartbeat and why she sees the time is right for an anti-ageism movement, you ought to read this book. Originally self-published, it became a hit and has led her to a worldwide speaking tour.

Much like Gloria Steinem has done (which I chronicle in this post), Ashton believes that we need some serious consciousness-raising when it comes to the subject of how we age and create more intergenerational collaboration. She writes

“Ageism is a prejudice against our own future selves...and has the dubious distinction of being the only ‘ism’ related to a universal condition. It takes root in denial of the fact that we’re going to get old. That we are aging. Its hallmark is the irrational insistence that older people are Other, not Us - not even future us - and we go to great lengths to distance ourselves from that future state.”

Ashton is a role model for the kind of “new belligerency” or “wise rage” that many older people feel. She writes,

“Buttressed by comfort and confidence, anger has a place in the arsenal, as a rebuttal to the notion that we grow too old to learn or feel, and as a response to being silenced or patronized.”

We’re proud to have Ashton join us on MEA’s guest faculty next February as she helps encourage a new breed of “gray panthers.” I’ll finish this review with a quote in the book about wisdom from psychologist Todd Finnemore that speaks to why activism becomes a vital part of our lives,

“Wisdom is the capacity to see circumstances as integrated wholes. As we age our capacity for integration increases. Older brains are more diversely wired and use many more connections than younger ones, because we’ve made so many associations over the course of our lives. Wisdom allows for seemingly contradictory ideas or events to exist in our minds with less dissonance. We can be angry with someone we love without losing sight of our connection, or be outraged by an idea without losing hope. We don’t rush to the only truth because that’s all that we know. Not all older people are wise, and aging does not inevitably or magically create wisdom. But through attention to experience, aging offers many changes to develop wisdom.”

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