Are you sitting in your Archie Bunker chair?

My favourite place in the whole world is my own comfortable La-Z-Boy recliner, complete with a massager, heat, and a refrigerator. Since I often sit there with my feet up while I work, its roomy compartments are filled with my working tools—pens and pen refills, yellow stickers, hand sanitizer and hand lotion, a stretch band to keep my legs in shape and barbells to exercise my arms, and, especially, dark chocolate to keep my cholesterol in check. With a cup of coffee by my side and a few file folders on my lap, I’m at peace there. This is “my personal chair”—a wonderful chair my two children gave me as a gift after my stroke seven years ago. Sometimes when I sit in my chair and voice my opinions with strong conviction, my family will humorously say, “You’re sitting in your Archie Bunker chair again.” I don’t mind it at all because I agree with TV Guide, which once named Archie in “All in the Family” the greatest television character of all time. He was brash, ignorant, and bigoted, but you have to understand how difficult life was for Archie. He got robbed as a taxi driver, he was passed over for a promotion on the loading dock and, when the Jeffersons moved next door, he was worried about property values. On top of all that, he had to support his left-wing college student son-in-law, Michael Stivic—a bone of contention because Archie was forced to drop out of high school during the Depression to help support his family. Although a basically decent person, Archie was troubled and confused by the changing everyday world he experienced. All he asked was to have only “regular Americans” in his life. Instead, he got a Polish son-in-law and a black neighbour (who was as prejudiced as Archie). He was asked to speak at Stretch Cunningham’s Jewish funeral and had to give rides to all kinds of people in his taxi cab. In real life, Carroll O’Connor, who played Archie, was just as liberal as his “meathead” son-in-law. But on the show, Archie was the worst bigot ever. We all recoil from such bigotry. After all, we are decent people. We try to see people as equal and try not to be prejudiced. We don’t judge people by their external characteristics. But there is one thing that always troubles me when the topic of prejudice and bigotry comes up. I’m waiting for that impartiality to be applied to “old” people. Many people, who wouldn’t think of being sexist or racist, think nothing of being ageist. Youthful, bright, healthy, competent older people often are passed over for employment, committees, and powerful boards in favour of younger people with less experience. The bad thing about bigotry is it divides people into “them” and “us.” That creates a very dangerous situation—especially when it relates to aging. Because “them” IS “us.” If you are alive, you are aging; and eventually, you too will become “old.” So, whatever your age, think about how you may be showing subtle signs of prejudice against yourself and others. Then get out of your Archie Bunker chair and work at eliminating your ageist behaviours today. Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at or visit

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