I don't think this importance comes exclusively with age, so the term "older" to me is limiting. Children and adults need to be able to walk away from people and situations which are threatening to their physical and mental well-being.
And we all know the problems associated with walking away most clearly when we find ourselves unable to walk away from a spouse, parent, friend, a job, an apartment, or, even a school when the situation calls for it.
This came to me the other day when I saw the line outside a housing office of a local non-profit organization. One that provides services primarily for the homeless. It was cold and raining. People had started to sit on the sidewalk along the side of a building next to the entrance to the housing office. What's going on I asked? I was told they are lining up to qualify for a room rental opportunity in one of the SRO's rentals owned and managed by the organization. aI learned some people had been out on the sidewalk overnight.
Sure, we see this when people line up for the newest iPhone or to get into an entertainment venue, but for rental housing, food, or a warm place to sleep and medical services?
How many processes do organizations, public and private, maintain that result in challenging people's peace of mind, self-respect, values & self-worth, not to mention health and safety?
We know from studies of unsheltered adults that it is difficult for them to get enough nutritious food, sleep, and medicine. A good number of them have a disabling condition, maybe as many as 72%.
Is it absolutely necessary to create and depend upon processes that result in already challenged people standing outside in the cold and rain in a line for what many argue are basic rights - housing, food, health, and safety - in situations that people can't easily walk away from?
Can we engage with the professionals running our social sector, public agencies AND local businesses in using our wits and brains to come up with processes that have better results even in times of great scarcity as evidenced by both a housing and addiction crisis?
Or do we as citizens and residents walk away from the problems created for people who can't walk away? Or do we challenge the system of professionals and business owners in our caring community to come up with solutions and not next year, this year.
I think you know my answer to that.