LEARNING TO GET OLD -I

Christmas time always appeals for a more affectionate way to look the more fragile members of our families, to those we usually give little time in our busy lives. Among those, old people is usually remembered in a different and more attentive way and given the opportunity to share family life as a whole, even if they spend most of the year alone and far away, almost forgotten, waiting for a visit or a telephone call.

The fact is that differently from what happens with other ages of personal life we only know what old age is when we are happy enough to reach it!

Old age is a mysterious place you enter in without knowing why till you suddenly  discover yourself there when most of the easy things you usually do in your daily life turn to be more time consuming and difficult. Then you may accommodate to the situation or enter a denial process forcing yourself to perform as nothing had happened. If so you become an enthusiastic gymnast, you encourage the speed of your movements, you speak, behave and do things having in mind the one you were and refusing to turn the page. This, in modern terms, seems to be the right decision and the one that deserves public applause.

Nevertheless, in what the variety of seasons life is made off you are loosing something you risk to die without experiencing : the serenity of looking things from the place  time had let you to enjoy vivid experience and knowledge of the different paths of life. The choice is between life and performance.

It is rather curious – and it would be impossible to be the other way round – the fact that those who overlook  questions related with old age know almost as much about it as we know about death! All the experience we have is other people’s old age and death!

Contrary to what happens when talking about childhood, youth and mature age, no one can talk about old age with precise knowledge.

However, if there are questions that deserve social attention old age is one of them . Due to a lot of well known reasons the age pyramid has been for years inverting its base of youngsters to substitute it by almost centenary people, causing a generations problem very difficult to find a socially satisfactory solution.

It is true you can ask people to work for more a decade or to let life take its way, if without pain and suffering, and give up al those treatments and medicines that keep you alive even when you do not feel like so and social means are showing to be unable to go on with this kind of cares. But this, besides to be seen as inhuman in a society like ours, as gone too far to make people understand that sometimes it is stupid to insist with life. If you were born to live for an hundred  years you will accomplish your life time with no need for external help.

Concerning to prolong retirement does not seem an ideal solution. In a world where unemployment increases, machines are being there to do a lot of the work men usually do and human imagination has lost the way of simplicity it seems normal old people get out to give employment to those who are young and want as much to start a family as society needs them to do so.

Tat does not mean – on the contrary! – that old people, who had been the ‘creator’ of the present generations and have done their best to let them a world as good as they can imagine or preview, do not deserve to be cherished and deserve as much comfort, peace and as much care family and society can afford them. It only means that perhaps it is time to begin an education for preparing old age…  (to be continued)

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LIVING EMPRISIONED BY ECONOMIC FATALISM

It seems easy to believe that everybody, even if not linked to religious principles or values, could hardly not cherish the words which flagged the French Revolution. To the ignored country people, depending exclusively from Nature and often called to fight wars they hardly understood the reason why, as to the urban people oppressed by poverty and injustice, words like Liberty, Equality and Fraternity sounded like an hymn of hope that would take them out of misery and despair.

To them those words had not the conceptual weight encyclopedists had given to each of them and intellectuals would went on speculating about through time, though often using them in the benefit of the political power they wanted to achieve.

In the real world slavery went on for more than a century – and keeps existing though using more sophisticated forms -, societies would go on organized by social stratifications, and the desirable solidarity is something we still keep trying to improve. There is no decree in the world that make me feel free if freedom is not in my state of mind, as well as we can hardly imagine a society where all men and women attain the same degrees of success and power even if benefiting from the same ‘nurture’ and ‘culture’. History teaches us that in all and each of its pages.

However, for how much illusive the French revolution might have been and  for all the consequences it brought to the French, and the sudden napoleonic imperial temptation – that was the beginning of the end of the European continent as a common home of the ocidental civilization – Industrial Revolution was much more revolutionary, as it was the beginning of a process that would continuously overshadow all systems and even the possibility of a reasonable thought to overcome all the problems it hosts inside its infernal machine.

Industrialization – which brought with it a lot of considered (not considerable!) benefits, such as providing work, even in the worst conditions, to crowds of workers in the great cities, to take benefits and profit from raw materials from distant geographies ,  and to improve human imagination to make them attractive at first and indispensable later on, to turn merchandizing into a lucrative activity though producing nothing, and with it starting a new and opportunistic way of communicating in order to turn attractive whatever you want to sell  from things to ideas – became the begining of something whose condition is to improve without ending because its end is socially one of the most dangerous circumstances societies can face. With industrialization we have been gradually condemned to be all and forever consumers if we want to survive, in spite of the wars and the ambiental problems it carries in it.