Thursday, July 21, 2005
all this talk of getting older...
Do you ever think about getting older? Not about what you're hoping to do when you're older, but about getting there, the aging process itself. A process that will, ultimately, deposit your sorry posterior on death's one way doorstep...
Aging is somehow scarier than passing away. The body fails, but more than that it's the internal drama of getting older that intimidates me. I like a strong one occasionally, yet I just don't know if I'm up to that particularly potent cocktail of nostalgia, remorse, frustration, resignment, memories, desires and fears that we call old age.
One of the frequent contributors to the NY Times wrote a piece called 'The Greediest Generation' way back on May 1. I saved it. Then forgot about it. And recently remembered it again. Forgetfulness is part of aging.
The point Kristof makes in his note is that the generation known as the baby boomers has aged, and has done so selfishly. Those that championed the Pill now clamor for Viagra. Right to die issues and Social Security are just a two of the political hot potatoes that ride high on the agenda of the gray legions, voters, lobbyists and tax payers all. The privileges and entitlements garnered by today's seniors weigh heavily on a federal system already many trillions in debt.
On the other hand, America's children have only the twelfth lowest infant mortality rate, vaccinations for diseases like measles and polio rank in the 80's worldwide, nearly 30% have no medical insurance and nearly 20% live in poverty - roughly the same percentage as 40 years ago.
Kristof says that the 'me first' attitude we so often assail in young people is actually their rightful inheritance. Instead of insuring a better world for those who follow, the boomer generation has sought to insure its own well being to the bitter end.
I think the man may have a point. Yet he dwells exclusively on the economic and social impact of the passing generation's self-centeredness.
I think that the clearest, most lapidary and durable affirmation of self over the children was the decision to legalize abortion. There was a time, perhaps, when being a parent meant giving your life for your children if necessary. Now it includes taking your child's life when your own comfort or convenience is threatened.
The baby boomers age, but not as gracefully as they might like to think.