Family words – episode 2

French children are taught to say “vous“, “monsieur” or “madame” to seniors. It is a way to show respect to elderly people. One should absolutely not remind them of their age, in the Western world old age is often perceived as a weakness to run away from.

On the contrary, children who speak Swahili will greet an old person with “shikamoo” but will call them “bibi” (grandmother) or “babu” (grandfather) even if they are not related to one another. White hair is recognized as a sign of wisdom.

It would be intersting to shift viewpoint in France. If old men and women in France were not perceived anymore as a weight but as a source of wisdom able to take a step back, it might turn the debate on the retirement pensions around. Our old people would retire from the active world of work, while remaining available for softer activities such as the transmission of knowledge.

Dans 40 ans j’adorerais qu’on m’appelle bibi.

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