养老不能集体无意识 – We can’t all forget about old people

岁尾年终,回家看看将成为当代中国又一次集体上演的传统尽孝仪式,而空巢乡村和空心家庭也将成为媒体和社会绕不过去的一个话题。将留守老人接在城里与儿女们一起生活是不是算是尽了孝道?让老人们留在乡下独自生活是不是年轻人的无情无义?

前两天结合自己的经历和实际,实录了父母不愿挪窝的经历,之所以在网上啰嗦个人私事和家事,并不是故意要晒晒隐私什么的,而是这些看似琐碎的事情里,包含着我对当下农村养老问题的一些思考,在当前农村普遍“空巢化”、家庭“空心化”的现实面前,农村老人该如何养老?后辈儿孙们如何才能尽孝?这是一个不容忽视的现实问题。

乡村留守孩子的成长问题,农村妇女的权益保护问题虽然至今没有的得到根本性的解决,但已经引起媒体和社会的警觉和探讨。而打工者的家庭里那些白发苍苍的“留守老人”,他们的劳累、艰难,他们的苦楚、孤独则至今还游离于社会聚焦的视线之外。

博文发了出来,有朋友看了,立马斥责这是后辈儿孙们不孝的表现,将年迈的父母独自留在老屋里,而自己住上了高楼新房,于心何忍?更有一位我认识的朋友表现更是激烈,说羊也有跪乳之恩。说实话,对于这些批评,我不仅不感到生气,而且还感受到了一丝温暖。

作为人之父母,儿孙绕膝,尽享天伦之乐,那个父母不希望这样?而作为子女,端汤送水,堂前尽孝,应该是人之本分。问题是,这些中国民族的传统美德,随着社会变革已经成为人们美好的回忆。

翻开留守孩子的作文本,上面写着盼望进城的父母多为爷爷奶奶着想,走进城市的建筑工地,我们听到的是“想尽孝”的共同感叹。故土难离的留守老人,一边叮嘱着儿女在外面挣大钱,别给乡亲们丢脸,一边背过脸去抹泪,暗自咀嚼心中难言的苦涩。

留下的承包地不能让他荒着,儿女们寄钱回家也舍不得请人帮工,风里雨里忙个不停,老人们除了要帮着做饭,穿衣,还要操心管教孙辈们的读书。老人们年老体衰,病痛自是难免,儿女们不在床前服侍,只能自己撑着。真正备受煎熬的是对在外儿女无尽的牵挂和自己内心深处无言的孤独。

如果说发生在上个世界九十年代初期的第一代农民工城里打工挣钱,是为了回家养老,那么随着二十一世纪第一个十年的到来,新的农民工进城打工不再是为了贴补家用,而是不愿再次回到那片固着祖辈的那片土地上。这种深刻的社会转型给既有的家庭结构、亲缘关系、村落文化造成强烈的震荡和冲击,也给传统的四代同堂,堂前尽孝的家庭伦理观念带来了巨大的冲击。

随着更多的年轻人的离去,他们的身后,留下的是一处处日渐荒芜和凋敝的家园,在这令人盲然的历史交集时刻,乡村传统的家庭赡养模式已被无情的颠覆,原有的代际互动和情感链接已经在慢慢的断裂。那些留守老人所面对和承受的是一种怎样的生存状态?儿女们无奈的将自己赡养父母的负担推向了社会,可是,在一个高度集中、欺上瞒下的政府管理体制下,我们看到的只有自然的村落,而看不到一个公平、正义的社会。

作为留守儿童和留守妇女,随着社会的发展和生活条件的改善,选择一走了之也许是一个不错的选择,可对于那些留守老人,不说情感上能不能接受故土难离的撕裂,单是生活习惯和行为方式的不适应,无异于将它们囚禁在另一个牢笼中。不少子女将父母接进城市,与其说是养老尽孝,还不如说是雇佣了一个长期免费的保姆。

进城的不服水土与留守的尴尬现实,远不是名义上的赡养和尽孝所能解决的,有人说乡村留守老人所遭遇的是一个无解的结,是工业化和城镇化进程中必然付出的成本代价。如果这个说法成立,那么,正处于转型期社会的这一代人在漫长的人生中,注定要背上沉重而永远的道德忏悔和亲情愧疚!

事实上乡村老人闲不下来的,劳动就是他们宿命,也是他们安享晚年的一种行为方式,尊重父母的意愿,不要囿于习俗和偏见的束缚,远比死守在一个屋檐下要幸福的多。毕竟,与解决家庭的“空心”相比,正视老人的“心空” 更要迫切一些。

As the year draws to a close, returning home has become a large collective act of filial piety for contemporary China, but the state of empty nests and abandoned villages has also become a topic which the media and society can’t avoid. Is it the height of filial piety that old people come live with their sons and daughters in the city? And is it lack of care if young people let the elderly live alone in the country?

Two days ago, based on my own experience, I recorded how my parents refused to move house: this was not to expose my private life online or something, but this seemingly trivial anecdote captured some of my thinking about the question of age care and rural areas. In the current state of universal ’empty nesting’ and ‘abandoned homes’ in rural areas, how will elderly people living in the villages be taken care of? How can children and grand-children behave with filial piety? This is a real problem which we cannot ignore.

The growing problem of rural children left behind and protecting the rights of women in rural areas has already attracted awareness and discussion from the media and society, although they have not been solved. But the white-haired ‘old people left behind’ from the families of migrant workers, their fatigue, difficulties, suffering and loneliness remain far from the concerns of our society.

After I published this post, a friend saw it, and immediately denounced my position as lack of filial piety from the children and grand-children: leaving your elderly parents alone in the old house while you live in a high-rise building, isn’t that heartless? Another friend had an even more intense reaction, saying even the sheep have the grace to kneel down. To say the truth, facing these criticism, not only did I not feel angry, but I even felt a kind of warmth.

From the parents’ perspective, to see your children and grand-children kneeling around you, and enjoying their company, who wouldn’t want that? And from the children and grand-children’s perspective, to hand out soup and water and demonstrate filial piety should be the duty of everyone. But the problem is, these traditional virtues of the Chinese nations, with social change, have become just memories.

When we open the book of the children left behind, the front page says that the parents heading for the big city think a lot about the grand-parents, and when we enter the construction sites of the big cities, we hear a lot of ‘filial piety’ laments. The old people who find it hard to leave the village on one side tell their sons and daughters to go out and make more money, to not make them lose face, while on the other side they secretely brush the tears off their face, hiding unexpressible bitterness in their hearts.

留下的承包地不能让他荒着,儿女们寄钱回家也舍不得请人帮工,风里雨里忙个不停,老人们除了要帮着做饭,穿衣,还要操心管教孙辈们的读书。老人们年老体衰,病痛自是难免,儿女们不在床前服侍,只能自己撑着。真正备受煎熬的是对在外儿女无尽的牵挂和自己内心深处无言的孤独。

If we say that the fist generation of migrant workers who went to the cities to make money in the nineties did so to later return home and take care of the elderly, with the first decade of the twenty first century, the new wave of migrant workers no longer go to the city to supplement their income, but because they do not want to be bound any more to their ancestral plot of land. This profound social transformation has caused intense tremors and shocks to existing family, relatives and village structures. It has also had an enormous impact on the traditional ‘four generations under a roof’ model, and on the family ethics of filial piety.

As more and more young people leave, they also leave behind them increasingly barren and depressed homes. 在这令人盲然的历史交集时刻,乡村传统的家庭赡养模式已被无情的颠覆,原有的代际互动和情感链接已经在慢慢的断裂。那些留守老人所面对和承受的是一种怎样的生存状态?Helpless sons and daughters will push the burden of caring for their parents onto society, but in a highly centralised and 欺上瞒下 form of government system, we only see natural villages, but we do not see a fair and just society.

As for the left behind children and women, along with the improvement of living conditions and social developments, the choice to leave the village may not be bad; but as regards the left behind elderly, without even considering the emotional difficulty of leaving their homeland, the new conditions may simply not suit their living habits and modes of behaviour, and it may be tantamount to imprisoning them inside another cage. Many sons and daughters who bring their parents to the city don’t do so out of filial piety, but because it brings the household a free nanny.

Their lack of adaptation to city life, and the embarrassing reality of village life, this is not a problem that can be easily solved through care and filial piety. Some people say that the problem of elderly people left behind in the villages has no solution, it’s the necessary price to pay for industrialisation and urbanisation. If that is the case, then this generation experiencing social transition will, for all their lifetime, bear the heavy weight of guilt and repentance in confront to their family.

Actually, elderly people in rural areas are restless, labouring is their destiny, and a way for them to enjoy their old age. Respecting the wishes of parents, and not being bound by customs and bias, brings far more happiness than all living under the same roof. After all, compared to the ’empty homes’, the problem of old people’s ’empty hearts’ is far more pressing.

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