Today while driving down Hamilton Street on my way to an appointment, I saw a two story brick building being torn down. The area was fenced in with a chain-link fence. I’m not sure if that was to keep the bricks in or the gawkers out. There was a big piece of yellow machinery that looked similar to this one but wasn’t quite so tall. The grabber on the front has four teeth, two on the top and two on the bottom. The driver was maneuvering the grabber and raking it across the bricks, dragging them down while a man stood slightly apart from the machine aiming a hose at the grabber as it did its destructive work. I’m not sure why water was being squirted on the area. Maybe to keep the dust down?
As I sat at the red light on my way to the appointment and again when I was done, I couldn’t help but think that the building didn’t look that old and decrepit that it needed to be torn down. Why not fix whatever was wrong with it to use it again? All those good bricks going to waste. Where are they going to throw them? Can they be recycled and used for something else? What is the history of the building? What went on there? There had to be a story about the building? People once inhabited it for work or school. Laughter had once echoed in its halls. Now it was empty, not worth to be standing.
Standing outside the fence with both hands hooked into the gaps was an older gentleman. He was grey-haired, wearing navy blue shorts, a white v-neck undershirt, and black socks and shoes. I wondered if he were thinking, “What will happen to me when I am no longer useful?” The similarity of the two made me sad.
We are a society that does not value our old. We do no value the wisdom contained in a person who has lived a lifetime. Too many times I’ve read and heard about people being forced into early retirement because their company can’t afford to or chooses not to pay them. It’s cheaper to hire someone younger. So the wisdom and experience is set aside, so some inexperienced young’un can step in and do the job faster, seemingly more efficiently, and cheaper. How many of us scorn the advice and counsel of our parents or grandparents? I’m as guilty of it as the next person.
Reminds me of the story of King Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, in 1 Kings 12: 1-24. His stubbornness and unwillingness to listen to the elders who advised his father, rather instead listening to the young men he grew up, split the kingdom of Israel.
We need to pay attention to that story.