And that’s OK.
It’s scary, but it’s true.
That great philosopher “The Amazing Criswell” once said: “The future is the place where we will be spending the rest of our lives.” Unfortunately, there’s not much time left in our lives. Your lifetime will seem like a summer’s vacation when it’s over. Even Jesus wanted just a little more time. Did he get it? No.
But what about that remaining time? How should you fill it?
Let’s take a little test. There are just two questions both of which can be answered only with yes or no, so it won’t take long:
- Do you have children? It does not matter whether they are yours by birth, adoption or marriage.
- Are you over the age of 40?
If you answered ‘yes’ to either of these questions, it’s not your world anymore. The future does not belong to you, and you should behave appropriately. It belongs to those people who answered ‘no’ to both questions.
Those people are children– at least in spirit. They are ready and willing to embrace the future and the new things it brings. They have not abdicated their futures to their offspring (yet), and they are in the first half, the learning, expanding and enjoying half of their lives. To them, the end seems a long way off.
Many people, most of them old, have come to the conclusion that it’s not their world anymore on their own, maybe not directly, but they suspect it in their hearts. A lot of them are bitter. Some of them get very angry– they want the future to belong to them and they would really like it to be the same or similar to the past they’ve known.
These people are resentful of the young. They dislike new things– new music, new shows, new ideas. “New” is a bad word to them, a frightening word that holds no promise, only threat.
I have friends who have become crotchety, and are very proud of it. I have trouble being around them anymore. They find gay marriage threatening somehow, in ways they can’t articulate; but the recent decision by the SCOTUS is not for them– it’s for the future they won’t occupy, at least not for very long.
They watch Fox News because they find something that reinforces their fears oddly comforting (I have no idea why): “you’re goddamned right you better be afraid! Here’s more stuff to scare the shit out of you that should not bother you at all! Here is a group or a person who will make a good target for your fear and anger, despise them!”
They have become spiteful and hateful, spouting strange “facts” that have no basis in reality– easily disproven if their minds were open to reason; but they sadly are not. To them, I have been ‘turned’. They also seem to be very “in-your-face” about their beliefs, almost proud of being uninformed and belligerent at any attempt to enlighten them.
I had always hoped that people would grow wiser with age, less easily deluded, less gullible, more difficult to convince of falsity, more open to reason. I find among my peers and older people that the opposite is true.
Global warming, for instance.
The difference between my friends’ stance on man’s contribution to global warming and mine is that I hope they are correct, because it may already be too late to do anything about it. They had better be right at this point, they’ve claimed there was nothing wrong all the way through the time we could have been doing something about it. They honestly can’t accept global warming because it threatens not their children or the future of our planet, but because it threatens their world view.
How crazy is that? The threat is not to the future or the world, but to their belief system and therefore has to be denied. And that’s just global warming– the same holds true with every other progressive thought that comes their way: civil rights, income inequality, systemic racism, healthcare– you name it. Real threats are nothing compared to imagined ones.
Doctor Who (yeah, I’m quoting Doctor Who– get over it) said in the episode “The Brain of Morbius” that death was the price we pay for progress. Think of it, if the old did not die they would constantly wish to preserve an idealized past, fighting any progress away from it.
There is no place in the future for the old, and the foolish old especially.
Thank god for that.