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Some Senior Citizens Just Want Equality, Not Privilege

June 30, 1991

As a "senior" having lived in Orange County for almost 43 years, I wish to add my voice to Van A. France's in his provocative Commentary regarding seniors receiving preferential treatment ("Senior Citizens Shouldn't Gripe About Nickel Bus Fare Hike," June 2).

As I read France, he was highlighting a premise that age does not privilege us "senior citizens" to differential, discriminatory treatment. I agree. That's called "ageism!"

To the 85% active, productive seniors who want to be treated as any other citizen, special treatment is demeaning and separating. For certain, I do not speak for all older adults (no one ever could).

And I particularly do not speak for those who delight in receiving these privileges. But I do speak for many of us who want to be treated like anyone else.

As with any minority in this country, to be dealt with differently connotes we are not accepted as equals. It implies we cannot carry our load--cannot responsibly contribute our share. And that's denigrating.

Also, from a different perspective, special privileges could imply that somehow, because of our age, we should be placed on a pedestal. It reminds me of a china doll that is so fragile she must be put on the shelf and cannot be played with for fear she will break.

Well, I, for one, will not break. I also will not degenerate, unless I am put on the shelf. And then, if I don't fall off, I will certainly get dusty and truly fragile!

If I seem disturbed, I am! I am one who does not want special treatment, treatment designated simply because I've attained some mystical chronological age. Aging is not decline or separateness or dependency. It is living in harmony and cooperative support. It is growing and developing. It is carrying the responsibilities required in a "free" society. It is living as equals--with all the burdens and privileges therein.

It is not being set apart. That is "ageism!"

GLORIA DAVENPORT, Orange

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