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Commentaries and observations about the conflicting moral beliefs and psychological issues facing our culture.
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22 June 2022
Oddments Of Elderhood
Perhaps I am slow to “get it,” but lately I find the aging process tiptoeing up on me, sometimes having its way with me.
It’s no surprise that aging brings changes, some subtle, some overt, some physical, some psychological. Some are quite beneficial while others - not so much. But there is good news!!
Recent medical research indicates that our brains develop all our lives. Changes associated with aging are very often mentally, emotionally and spiritually beneficial. Mature, attentive elders give meaning to the belief that elderhood, more than any period of life, is the era of human “wisdom.”
However, we also know that the passing of years does not assure that every elder becomes a mature adult, aware that “feelings” are not the measure by which we should live or conduct ourselves.
Responses To The Inevitable
Elders who mature soon appreciate the unhurried leisure to pursue hobbies or, perhaps, play more golf (if at a slower pace). To deter aging’s occasional twinges, they stand straight, dress with care and (thank heavens) avoid tedious monologues about their aches and pains and doctor visits.
Contrarily, a few elders are overwhelmed by aging. As their memory lags and their resilience flounders, they acquiesce with dispirited resignation. They slouch wearily on shopping carts, shuffle laboriously from aisle to aisle, evoking solicitude from passing strangers.
And some elders – those of angry, cynical disposition - find advancing years further justification for their view that life is an empty, rudderless endeavor. They exude emotional futility and derive no meaning even from family or faith.
Research also tells us that attentive elders profit from insights which are often avoided by the ambitious and restless; insights such as belief in a personal God, heightened empathy, respect for tradition and moral clarity, appreciation of history past and present, a patient, altruistic heart and enhanced wisdom which can dilute decades of selfishness.
Attentive elders are aware of time’s relentless passing. We realize that peace and consolation are not handed to us, but depend on the choices we make. Accordingly, we often revive benign priorities which we’ve overlooked for decades, such as the age-old question, “What’s life - my life - really all about?”
In response, many elders shepherd their souls more thoughtfully than before, even re-igniting dormant faith as they face life’s Final Realities with dignity and concern for the needs of loved ones.
Unless we’re addicted to cellphone-itis or chronic grumpiness, attentive elders are disgusted by the reckless tactics of today’s mean-spirited ideologues who wish America ill. That’s why we elders will not relinquish certain hard-won insights which the wisdom of our decades has produced. For example:
- In our lifetimes, we have seen arrogant ideologues substitute power for influence, deceptive rhetoric for solid reasoning, undisciplined emotion for historical truth.
- That’s why we elders are deeply distressed by senseless accusations and popular “causes” which polarize Americans.
- We’re wise to virtue-signaling mantras, to duplicitous sloganeering and the chicanery of today’s social pathologies.
- We know the difference between fact and fiction, between worthy endeavors and scams which litter our nation.
- We realize (as did our Founders) that freedom depends on self-restraint, respect for law, moral tradition, institutions which serve the common good, and shared responsibilities and rights, as our Constitution declares.
- Thus, we’re not blind to today’s moral absurdities which pretend to represent “racial equality” or “sexual freedom.” We know it’s crucial to look beyond words to substance.
- We know a baby in the womb of his mother (not “birthing person”) is “ensouled” at the moment of conception and is a true human being, a real person who deserves to live.
- We respect Nature’s choice to create two – and only two – sexes (male and female, as Genesis says).
- We find current lists of ridiculous pronouns and frivolous genders offensive to medicine, genetics, biology, morality, science, history, tradition, language and common sense.
- We know that people who define their identity by their sexual preferences pervert what it is to be a human being.
- We are concerned that increasing numbers of citizens have lost faith in God, which bodes ill for our nation’s survival.
Some Guiding Principles
We elders hold these (and other) truths to be self-evident for reasons beyond parochial or political beliefs. Our reasons rest on common sense and moral logic, on Nature’s principles, on rational cause-and-effect, on the history of America, on Revelation and the fact that only God is the Creator; we are not.
- We elders have seen the barbaric lengths to which individuals and nations go. Our early years were lived in the throes of a World War, then Vietnam, then decades of Cold War, then the Middle East, then Marxism and the corrupt dictates of Socialism.
- We know the human tendency to forget the past, so we repeat needless brutality and, in doing so, we taint our nation to its roots.
- We know that the evil ideas which inspires such events abound in our media and corporations, our schools, even our churches.
- Sadly, we elders witness many of our institutions fall beneath the weight of ideologies hostile to our Constitution, our Republic and our fragile traditions of Justice under law.
- So, we know well the costs of human weakness and bad ideas.
- We understand the practical value of self-restraint and truth.
- We know the harm prejudice and denial inflict on each and all.
- We know the odious outcome of power abused and voter naivete.
- We know everyone pays a price as we age. Loss and deprivation befall all people at some point. Nature sees to it.
- We know the real goal of living is not to avoid paying a price. The goal of living is to embrace and befriend our sense of wonder, then to express our gratitude for the gifts which the Giver of Life gives us, even the gifts of ambiguity and suffering.
Wonder and gratitude then become the beginning of wisdom for us elders. And what does wisdom teach us elders through the decades?
Wonder And Wisdom
- We elders learn that if we continue to reject God, belittle our finest traditions and discard history’s lessons, we destroy our common foundations for lasting truth, justice and moral clarity.
- We elders learn that, without shared accountability, law is soon turned against us, our Constitutional guarantees are eroded, and centuries of tradition and religion are stifled. We then sink into moral nihilism where nothing matters, not even the minds and hearts of our children, as is daily more evident.
- Today’s upsurge in violence (physical and psychological) and insane distortions of Nature’s psycho-sexual limits reflect moral chaos and render grave distortions to the common good. These social pathologies spring from radical secularism, a personal and cultural infection which gains support each day.
- We elders realize that a country which forbids prayer amongst its youth and deprives them of objective moral ideals thereby breeds citizens to whom harmful behavior means nothing.
- We elders have seen our nation secularize our educational institutions, remove God's authority from our national dialogue, legitimize the killing of babies, destroy the sacred nature of sex, gender and family, and violate Nature's limits in countless ways.
- We are not, therefore, surprised when brutality emerges within our historically blind, morally reckless culture.
- We elders have learned that the pursuit of unrestrained "freedoms" and unfettered individual "rights" has turned us into a nation willing to legislate for a totally individualistic, morally vacant culture without God – God, Who the source of all authentic morality.
- We elders know that these distorted “freedoms” create bizarre variants of human nature which celebrate narcissism and speed decay of our national conscience.
History reveals that as a nation rejects its heritage, it breeds anarchy, and disregards the wisdom of elders. It fuels national suicide, as most empires in history have done before us.
As we said, a major benefit of aging for most elders is that it exposes us to our own vulnerability and renders us liable to truths which we may have avoided for a long time. For example, many elders (not all, of course) recognize the fallacies which many people entertain. In response, aging’s appeal to wisdom says to all of us:
- Stop the egocentric games we play with one another.
- Drop the needless defenses we erect against one another.
- Face foolish pride and self-defeating inclinations.
- Stop living in denial. Confront self-delusion and hidden agendas.
- Quell the desire to be trendy and beyond reproach.
- Recognize that we are all called to moral maturity, that we are designed to honor the limits of our Created nature.
- Thank God for our lives and our ability to think and choose.
- Realize that human behavior has consequences which may be immediate or delayed. But everything we do is, first and foremost, a matter of morality, of right and wrong.
The Practical Outcome
As we all know by now, these comments are not just for us elders. These are universal truths which apply to all of us.
We are all part of this reality, no matter how old we are. The consequences of our choices are more apparent each day.
These truths emphasize clearly that we cannot avoid the Divine call to virtue and self-restraint without abetting the chaos of false “freedoms” and furthering our nations’ internal decline.
Finally, the particular wisdom and vision of elderhood insists that a profoundly moral choice faces each of us, a choice we must all make . . for we are all affected.