This has been in the back of my mind for about a year now, but recently came to the forefront as I have heard several people express disbelief at their advanced age.
So bear with me.
It has occurred to me that the soul of man is ageless. I used to wonder (when I was about 4) how old I'd be in heaven. If I died as a child, would I always be a child, or would I miraculously skip to a grown up? Are people really at their "prime" at age 25?
But since I've been getting older (ripe old 33!) I've begun to realize that I'm the same person that I was when I was 4. That sounds rather simplistic, I guess; of course I'm still me. My way of doing things has changed; I've learned a lot, had new experiences, and come to different conclusions than I used to. However, my way of feeling and thinking about things is still the same. The part of me that is essentially ME remains.
There are two personal applications to this revelation.
#1 is that my children will always be the same person as they are now. The things I say to them and do with them will affect them for eternity. This is a serious matter to consider. It is humbling and cautious-making.
#2 is that old people were once young. Another "duh," I know, but think about it. Think about how you see the elderly treated. How those under 70 talk to those over 80. Old people have the same ME-ness to them that I do now, and did when I was a toddler. Their bodies betray them at every turn, and sometimes even talking is difficult, but they still think and feel inside like a human being, not an elder.
I think this is what "Right to Life" is all about, if you'll follow me. Even, to a large extent, the pacifist position. Humans are made in the image of God, and have an innate worth. It doesn't matter if a person is not yet born, an illogical two-year-old, 30, or 96; they have a soul that deserves respect. The body changes and dies, but the soul remains.
So take the time to listen to those in a different stage of life from yourself. Children are just as earnest as grownups, and shouldn't be blown off because they are short. A stroke victim knows what she's thinking and is just as frustrated as you are at her inability to express it.
You get the idea, and I'm soapboxing now (hey, I invented a word!), so I'll quit. Thanks for listening.