Ah, the glory of being an “honored citizen.”

The spread of COVID-19 brings out the best — and worst — in people. The best are the health care workers, grocery store clerks, delivery drivers, police officers and gas station attendants helping us through the pandemic. The worse are those saying for the sake of the economy the elderly are expendable.

Let that sink in a moment.

Who are the “elderly”? Most people younger than 55 think elderly is a destination, as if they were in the Walla Walla Valley riding a tricycle and elderly was Yellowstone National Park. Any of us 55 and older would tell them that tricycle

has the engine of a jet plane.

Those 55 and older often won’t admit being elderly. They think the elderly are anyone 10 years or older than they are. At a certain age, mirrors become deceptive. Instead of wrinkles, we see the zestful high school graduate, the guy climbing Mount Hood or lifting a Volkswagen bug with one arm to rescue a button-nosed child.

Make no mistake. “Elderly” people should not be sacrificed for the Gross National Product. Most of us “elderly” worked our fingers bony for 40-plus years for retirement. We have earned security, contentment and the occasional drive down Nostalgia Lane.

We want to see grandchildren grow up, go to college or trade school, get that first job, marry — to be a part of these milestones. Besides, we have wisdom to share — just ask us.

We’ve ridden the roller coaster of life — the job promotions and layoffs, the health and illnesses, the marriages and divorces. We have resilience.

We boast a white hair and wrinkle for each problem faced and solved. We’ll tell you life isn’t fair and good things come to those who wait. We might even tell you to get off our lawn.

The “elderly” deserve respect. They should have an honored place in society, not be the target of predators who measure success by their second house or stock portfolio.

These are unusual times. As we sail through the fog of COVID-19, let’s bring the economy back robustly, together, young and old working together, safely. Let’s help small businesses if not thrive survive.

Let’s have a goal not of massive 401Ks for the few but of business and personal survival for the many.

Let’s aim for security and contentment, even while doing with less and saving the twist ties off bread bags.

Sure, it’s hard to cut ties with the American caviar dream. But for most of us that is the harsh reality. Young or old, rich or poor — we fight together. A brighter day will come. Standing on a mountain of bodies of our weakest and most vulnerable does not improve the view.

Jeff Petersen can be reached at jeffpetersen@wwub.com or 509-526-8363.