Friday, 4 December 2015

For those days

For those days when you've just had enough of the stupid.

A while back I saw a post on some form of social media bemoaning the fact that once upon a time age and wisdom were respected while now youth and beauty are revered.

Now don't get me wrong, I understand the sentiment. Certainly age and wisdom are worth more than youth and beauty. If I had to choose between being stuck on a desert island with an immature hottie, or with a mature individual with common sense, practical experience and a sense of social responsibility it wouldn't take even the tiniest of slices of a second to make the choice.

However, let's not kid ourselves that being stuck on a desert island is the only way to quantify the value of something. The principle way of determining value is, in our society, through quantifying its rarity. This can be evidenced through history by the interest we've had in art work and craftsmanship, jewellery, rare metals, stamps etc. We, as a species, like rare things.

And guess what used to be rare, but is increasingly common? Age.

Once, living past forty was rare, past sixty was astonishing and past eighty was unheard of. Even in the last century living to 100 seemed to be about as far as we could get, but look up the oldest person in the world. Before you do, have a guess at how old they are. I bet you underestimated.

Once, to live beyond forty years old gave you a wealth of life experience that was hard to earn and was respected for its rarity. As aging becomes common and we can all reach that, we don't see the knowledge as rare. Instead we see that as we get old, we start to break down, mentally as well as physically. Aging lasts forever.

What is transient is youth.

We are young, and extremely stupid, for a short while. As we grow older and begin to break, we think back to our missed opportunities. We want to relive some part of our youth and do it right. We want to quit smoking, or never to have started. We want to have learned to dance, taken that chance to skydive, tried to hike across China, written that novel.

The people who control our media see young, beautiful people and see their own missed opportunities. They want to capture it before it passes and over the decades this becomes what it is now.

Yes, it's foolish, but don't kid yourself into thinking the reverence we used to feel for age and wisdom was any better informed than our current delight in youth. Christ, do you think the elders who were admired over the centuries were actually all that wise? Or did they get lucky? Did they happen to be immune to that bug, or were they wise enough to eat the right stuff to heal quickly? Did they survive childbirth because they were smart, or just lucky? Were they right about the big man in the sky sending lightening when he was angry, or was it coincidence that they found a cave to hide in instead of under a tree?