Neglect of elders' skills Underused elders' wisdom Erosion of elders' wisdom Underutilization of wisdom of the elderly Failure to listen to older generations Unreceived life wisdom Isolation of elders' wisdom
Older members of society, with a lifetime of observations, personal development and historical continuity with previous generations, are unable to transmit their wisdom to those following them due to the negative features that have emerged in modern life. These features include the isolation of the old due to the ever-shrinking size of the family, and to the weakening of natural ties when the elderly are cared for by the welfare state instead of the family doing so. They also include the radical changes that have occurred in values between the generations, which make communication difficult. Older people may also withhold their accumulated wisdom in a misguided attempt to shelter the next generation from unpleasant realities, such as experiences of war, poverty, famine or disease. Finally, because there is no routine cultural mechanism to record the perceptions of the mature, these may become distorted as people grow older, due to a psychological need to reinvent or romanticize the past, or due to failure of memory.
Because older people have progressed further along life's journey than the rest of society, those among them that are self-aware possess inherent insight about the nature of life which is essential in planning the future. However, neither society nor the old people themselves articulate or give sufficient respect to this unique responsibility. Since these particular gifts are not passed on, the whole of present-day society is deprived.
Although older people have accumulated wisdom, this is unrelated to current values. In the midst of collapsing traditional values, adult members of the population receive little support or guidance in social relations from their elders. The information systems necessary for maintaining family, community and larger social relations are missing. This vacuum of values to reinforce social forms results in little guidance for young people and children as they learn to be socially active.
The accumulated wisdom of the older generation is the stabilizing and cohesive influence that is needed by modern, fragmented and rapidly changing societies, but which they are, for various reasons, deprived of.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since 1907.