“Become an Elder Instead of just…getting…old: An Instruction Manual” 

 I have put the introduction of my soon-to-be-published book, now in its ninth draft ― in the form of a question.



What Makes Us Humans Unique?

Most would give the pair of answers we learned in school ― the opposable thumb that lets us make tools and our huge neocortex that enables us to think about thinking.

However we have been blind to something else of huge importance that has been right in front of our noses ― Elders.

All species of animals have two stages of life ―youth and adult. Homo sapiens is unique as the only species that has a third stage ― Elder. Elder exists as the result of a biologic fact that is so commonplace, so ordinary, that we don’t notice it as extraordinary.

In all species there is a bizarre event that occurs to the female when she can no long bear young. She dies.

Every species that is, except for the female human. Following the end of childbearing, woman not only does not die, she lives an additional half a lifetime. That extra half lifetime has given us humans two advantages ― the stage of Elder as the source of wisdom and it has given us the institution of grandparent. This means that we are the only species that has two generations to raise our young.  No other species has this extraordinary evolutionary advantage: their young are raised by mothers only.

This is amazing.

Elder has held the wisdom of our species for the 200,000 years that modern humans have lived on earth. That wisdom has allowed human beings to expand and thrive in the most hostile reaches of our earth.  In those places and for all that time, our population, living in close proximity to nature, remained less than a single billion.

We began to lose the stage of Elder about 200 years ago when our planet presented us with its one-time gift of fossil fuels that has resulted in the miracles of technology, transportation and communication.

Nothing is free however: there is always a price to be paid. We are beginning to pay that price now. With loss of our precious Elder stage, we live in a world that is run by Adult without Elder input and without Elder wisdom. Adult, short-sighted by nature, has placed humanity at the most dangerous fork in the road we have ever faced.  We have allowed our population to spike over 7 billion and we have dangerously polluted our nest.

To save our planet and to save our species, we must bring Elder back as our source of wisdom.

This book is about three things:

  • How to train yourself as Elder,
  • How to train others to become Elder,
  • Returning the Third Stage of life, Elder, to its rightful place.

My background intention is that these will contribute to an expanded worldwide worldview, out of which might come a future for humanity wherein all life is celebrated and no one is left out ― a future of You AND Me.


2 thoughts on ““Become an Elder Instead of just…getting…old: An Instruction Manual” 

  1. This is not just insight, it is wisdom. Harvey, overtime I see you, I see the twinkle in your eye of a special kind of wisdom. I always wanted to engage in conversation with you and that never seemed to happen. This is a refreshing and deep, pronouncement. Thank you so much, now I feel engaged.

  2. 9th draft? Just publish it, Harvey.
    There is a beautiful new book about the need for elders, especially the wise woman elder – time of the Black Jaguar by Arkan Lushwalla from both indigenous Peruvian and Lakota cultures. I have been on the Council of Elders for the Holistic Veterinary Association for a decade and our role has been crucial at times. A key for our council is listening – to each other, to the soul of the organization and to other voices that move us.

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