Saturday 5 December 2020

Old age is (partly) about re-evaluating your earlier life

I have written before about the fact that mainstream modern culture has no distinctive role for the elderly; and that all the old people held-up for admiration by the mass media are simply continuing to do what young people do as a matter of course - such as looking young, doing strenous physical activities, being very active (lots of sex, holidays and socialising - pre 2020).

In the end, however, for modern culture; old people are merely second-rate/ fake young people.  

The idea - and indeed the actuality - of old people as wiser then young, has disappeared. Modern 'exemplary' old people are Not wiser - unless 'wisdom' consists in pretending to be young; by ever-increasing usage of plastic surgery, cosmetics and drugs (lots of drugs!).

Modern old people are a failure! At present, especially in 2020, they are often much worse than the young in their cowardly and credulous embrace of the totalitarian Healthist agenda that (in reality) aims to imprison and (eventually) kill them.

Why are old people such a failure? The brief and truthful answer is Solzhenitsyn's phrase that They Have Forgotten God. Modern Old People are mostly Godless children of the fifties and sixties - even/ especially when they self-identify as Christian. 

This is significant, because one of the main roles of old gage - and the potential source of that wisdom associated with old age, is retrospective re-evaluation

When one is a Christian, retrospective re-evaluation happens almost spontaneously - which is why wisdom became stereotypical. 

What happens is that the past becomes as important as the present; and indeed looms larger in the attention of the elderly. Old people remember the events of their early life more often and more vividly than they remember the events of yesterday or last week. 

I don't mean due to the memory loss of dementia - although that is a pathological exaggeration of the natural phenomenon. I mean in terms of spontaneous attention and concern. 

The elderly find themselves going-over the events of earlier life in a way that is far more focused and concerned than they have ever previously experienced. What is then supposed to happen, is that these events are considered with Christian discernment.


Here, as in many places, we see that the purpose of this mortal life is Christian - and when one is Not a Christian it follows that mortal life is drained of purpose - as so many billions of people are experiencing at present.


What happens when we re-evaluate our earlier life from a Christian perspective; is that events and periods we regarded as being 'good times' often turn-out to be bad. 

For example, successful hedonism was enjoyable at the time; but we can now see that 'happiness' was merely pleasure - and often represented successful selfish short-termism. 

Periods of social success, high status, triumph - we now recognise were often bad for us; and ended by reinforcing the worst aspects of ourselves; generating pride, entitlement, passivity and other vices.

We may see that these supposedly 'happy' periods led to habits and attitudes, choices and decisions, that led to misery and alienation in the longer-term. Or led to harm done to other people - of which we were (selfishly) unaware at the time. 


On the plus side; we find that some of periods of 'ordinary' everyday experience, for example family life, which seemed at the time dull, mundane, constricting; were in truth the best and most important things we ever did!

That (then un-noticed) time, sitting or walking alone - looking at a view, or 'just thinking' - was actually of great and lasting importance! Part of our Golden Thread.

Superficially, 'nothing was happening' - yet now we find such events rising to the surface of awareness - and their magical transcendence is revealed for the first time. 


But none of this work of discernment and re-evaluation is possible unless we are Christian, and understand our mortal lives in terms of our choice to follow Jesus to resurrected life in Heaven. 

So it turns-out that one of the real functions of old age has been lost along with theism in general, and Christian faith in particular. 

Restore Christianity, and we recover the value of old age.  



James Higham said...

This is the missing link all the way along, in all the scenarios - they make no sense, except in terms of the Christian God and His enemies.

Matthew T said...

This is a very, very timely post for me (although I am not "old"). It's so simple, yet so deep!

The reason I say this is, that this past year has been a profoundly self-reflective one for me. I found myself thinking, well, here we are - I have achieved all the career and family goals I ever had. So now what?

And that path led me to a bafflingly intense sort of introspection about my past, and what I could have done differently, and so forth. I was actually a bit troubled, wondering if something was "wrong" with me.

But now I see that maybe this is a good, or necessary, life phase.

Have you cured the midlife crisis, Bruce?!

Bruce Charlton said...

@Matthew - Ha! Well, let's rather say that the midlife crisis is a false response to a first awareness of what ought to be moving into the next phase of life, accompanied by reduced looks, energy, and satisfactions from the youthful period of adulthood.

So the crisis is a shift from just naturally *being* young to the conscious, effortful attempt to *retain* youthfulness.

The simulation can be very effective (some people can look younger, behave younger, do more etc), but the point is that it is fundamentally wrong, because it is wifully going against our spiritual destiny.

It is, indeed, a kind of sin - and as such usually leads to more sins (as is usually obvious).