A World Grown Weary
A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet
As an unarguable "senior citizen" I can tell you that I have long since given up on any hope of finding those so-called "golden years." They are, I have come to believe, some ethereal manifestation of a joke played by the fates upon those who dare to take up space on this blue marble and breath its air.
More and more I am hearing from seniors my age, or beyond, who decry any extended lengthening of their days. I don't attempt to dissuade them as I, too, and looking forward to whatever is beyond the pale. Hopefully, a new adventure as I, too, have tired of this one.
To just say that the word has changed would be a humongous understatement. For those of us who witnessed the world back when it was a decent place in which to live. Today the stench of the putrefaction of our society is sickening to those with sensibilities left to such things. And there are not many of us left. WE have been desensitized, for the most part to the malodorous fumes of the rot, the decay, the decomposition of a world grown mad with the corruption of hedonism.
I sometimes think that maybe this is the primary cause of numerous elder folk slipping away into Alzheimer's Disease. Has anyone considered that maybe it is a mental mass migration out of this world by those who just can't handle any more -- or -- who simply have had enough and choose to take refuge in a place they create for themselves somewhere in their minds, wherever that might be? It's safe there - for no one knows even WHERE the mind is.
Recently, a friend of mind was diagnosed with cancer. After surgery she was told by her doctor that she'd probably live to be in her nineties. She retorted immediately, "But I don't want to!" The middle aged doctor was stunned, taken aback. My friend told him: "Look. With the world in the mess it is today, and very little hope that the future holds anything better, I'd rather not hang around for what I feel sure is coming. I've had enough, thank you."
There was a time, not so long ago, actually, when the elderly of a society were valued. Their life experience was a treasure trove of all that had gone before. They had made their mistakes -- and learned from them -- and were willing to pass the secret of how the younger generation could avoid making those same mistakes just for the asking. That is not the case now and it hasn't been for rather a long time now.
Today, our society warehouses the elderly, stacking them up in so-called rest homes, nursing homes, and places with equally stupid sounding names made-up to hide what they really are -- buildings where the aged are sent to wait on death. We, as a society, pay huge sums of money to those willing to create such holding areas, with beautiful facades that ease that twinge from our conscience when we hastily drive by.
We have relegated a vast storehouse of wisdom to the sidelines and transformed them into observers who can no longer contribute nor partake. They're just, well, there.
They must feel helpless, as if locked in a sterile cage that smells of decontaminates that barely counters the oder of human body fluids and -- death. You think that won't drive you crazy? You think that might have something to do with early onset dementia, or Alzheimer's? Have we studied it? Do we give a damn?
C. S. Lewis once said: How incessant and great are the ills with which a prolonged old age is replete. Well, THAT didn't take a genius to figure out, now did it., And no, I am not a fan of C. S. Lewis. But even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
Methinks actress Bette Davis had it right. She said: "Old age is no place for sissies."
In my case, I have sort of taken ole Louis Kronenberger's thoughts to heart and adopted them. He said: "Old age is an excellent time for outrage. My goal is to say or do at least one outrageous thing every week." (I'm doing mine for this week by writing this piece!)
I recently had an acquaintance rushed to a university hospital for a life saving treatment for a deadly respiratory ailment that was on the verge of taking her life. Her only hope was to reach that nationally known hospital where her family knew her life would be saved. I later learned that a family member was asked by a member of the chopper crew how old the patient was and when told she was sixty-something, the crewman replied. Good. Had she been seventy, she would not have been allowed to make the flight.
You may add that to the pile of anecdotal evidence of how government interference in America's healthcare has cheapened human life, especially the life of the elderly. See, the government can't afford to pay for expensive medical treatment for those well past their prime and nearing the end of their lives. That's not good business. What it IS, however, is another example of man's inhumanity to man. You may recall that is one of the reasons God destroyed man with the Great Flood -- from which only Noah and his family were chosen to reestablish mankind.
Actually, when one takes the time to think about it, I mean REALLY think about it, the times we are living in today pretty much mirror the times Noah and his family lived in way back then. The world, much as today, was a wicked place. In fact "the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of man's heart was only evil - continually." (A paraphrase from Genesis chapter 6, verse 5.)
I have concluded that those of my generation and the generation beyond, recognize the current age for what it REALLY is and wish to be through with it.
I daresay that in another century, there will be no old people. Remember "Logan's Run," a movie from back in 1976. At age thirty, the state killed everyone. Don't think it can happen? What about the lady mentioned above who barely made it onto the helicopter? Still believe the state will continue to believe in the sanctity of human life -- you know, like they do now? Dream on, dear reader, dream on.
So. Is it any wonder that our elderly are ready to move on?
They say hope springs eternal in the human heart. Of course, that is a lie. Look around you at the hopeless people. The world is teeming with them. Where there is hopelessness life is extremely cheap.
So, what is to be done? Pretty much nothing. It is what it is. We cannot run from nor refuse to accept that we live in a world of our own creation. We have made our bed, now we must lie upon it and, eventually, die upon it.
Just a few pleasant thoughts to ponder over the weekend.
J. D. Longstreet
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