Excerpts from Horizon by Barry Lopez (2019)
“. . . .What I see consistently in [difficult circumstances] is the emergence of individuals who embody that culture’s sense of competence. . . .They are its wellspring of calmness. They do not disappear with defeat or after setbacks. They do not require reassurance in their commitments to such abstractions as justice and reverence. In traditional villages they’re called the elders, the people who carry the knowledge of what works, who have the ability to organize chaos into meaning, and who can point recovery in a good direction. Some anthropologists believe that the presence of elders is as important as any technological advancement or material advantage in ensuring that human life continues.
“. . .Elders take life more seriously. Their feelings toward all life around them are more tender, their capacity for empathy greater. . . .Elders are looking neither for an audience nor for confirmation. They know who they are, and the people around them know who they are. They do not need to tell you who they are.
“. . .Elders are more often listeners than speakers. And when they speak, they can talk a long time without using the word I.”