My kids and I went to the park after school recently, and I started talking to some of the other parents hanging at the park. A mom with whom I'm friendly was talking about an event that she had been to the night before. It wasn't quite a motivational seminar as there were no major plans for life changes that came from it, rather thought provoking ideas to take home and ponder. She was explaining a bit of what they did, and who spoke. I was trying to understand what it was, and she told me some of the questions they asked. One of the questions was, "What breaks your heart?". I haven't stopped thinking about this question.
I thought about mental illness, homelessness, war, but my quick answer was the elderly. Personally I have aging parents and so this subject is on my mind a lot lately. I have always been sensitive to the aging though. When I see a senior citizen at the end of their life I get sad because the way people slow down, and fade away is done with so little respect from younger generations. There is very little dignity in getting old. I was discussing this at a dinner recently and a friend joked that her heart doesn't break for the elderly because they can be so annoying. It is true that when we stop being capable of taking care of ourselves and suddenly have to cared for like babies again, it is understandable that crotchety behavior rears its head. I've also watched so many people have to live in pain when they get older. There is a point where doctors often say, "there is not much left we can do to help you." That would put me in a bad mood.
There are so many things that I wish I could change. After a week thinking about it, I became acutely aware of the injustice, racism, hatred and inequality that fills me with rage. I think about the social change that I wanted to see happen in college that is sadly more in need of happening than even then. With time, I understood that there are so many things that break my heart. Depending on the day, week, month, or minute my quick answer will be different. When I think about ageism though I do feel that people generations ahead of me, are wise, and although they may not always be in the most friendly mood, they have a lot more experience living life than the rest of us. Each and everyone of them have lived through more history than I have and have pretty fantastic stories about how freedom and opportunities have changed since they were young. So when thinking about what breaks my heart, I can answer it quickly but it is a complicated answer. I didn't even go to this workshop and I have gotten so much out of that question. I have begun to open my eyes to what my part is in working towards change. If there is something I feel is unjust, I want to do more than simply identify my feelings.