It just happens: We grow old. It’s a natural progression, without doubt. Not in the U.S. of course. The denial of death is a frenzied passion like no other. Getting old is a crime; not so much for the individual, but in a society terrified of “growing up”, old people are proof of the facts of life, so much so that being old has become taboo.
Growing old is tough enough without a “new” set of instructions; don’t look old, act old, get sick, become feeble or need help (unless that help is covered by insurance.) Don’t remind younger people, by your very presence, that there is an end, and before the end comes, a short, or long, period of degeneration. This period of “age” is rarely seen as a “good” thing; a time of life as valid as one’s childhood, young adulthood, or middle age. It is, however a fruitful time of personal development. There is no answer to the question, “But why continue to develop when the end is near?” As long as our bodies continue to function, learning and thinking continue to be what humans do.
I live in a town in which most people are “getting old” – not much opportunity for the young to work, to develop a career, to join the circus of material wealth and ambition. Traditionally, young people have returned to the area eventually, after college, a stint in corporate America, time in the military, or success in finding a spouse. Having “grown up” in this unique place, it was where they chose to establish families and to be close to loved ones. The Wyoming landscape and lifestyle have always been a fundamental fact in this choice to return, and it pulls relentlessly on those who leave.
Disastrous policies, and frankly criminal wars, prosecuted from Washington D.C. in league with corporate-Wall Street crooks, and funded by abused taxpayers, demonstrate the general belief on both coasts that the people who inhabit the “rest of the U.S.” just don’t matter. We are indeed worthless and disposable inferiors willing to enrich a ruling class that despises them, and to literally die for “blood” profits in their service.
We need immigration to survive as a community; we need children and young families, but opportunity is lacking. Small businesses are closing and not reopening: the owners have retired and are dying off. Competition from online retailers has siphoned off local spending and old people have very little to spend anyway. Every dime goes to necessities and the obscene cost of healthcare.
The American dream left our reality long ago. Wyoming’s existence has been plagued by Federal and corporate control from the beginning; the railroad opened the West to outright looting of it’s resources by far away entities. Rape and pillage of the land and it’s resources funded the American coastal and global empires; exploitation of immigrants has always provided labor. “Colonialization” by U.S. and European nations was not limited to the invasion of “foreign lands” but happened here also – and continues to this day.
Native Americans (not being suited to corporate life and labor) were killed off with conscious purpose – a policy of mass murder, the remnants confined to “reservations” where their descendants are expected to remain “invisible” – to whither away and to eventually die off, by a slow suicide of formerly free human beings.
These thoughts occupy my meditations as I pass through a human being’s last opportunity for personal development. It’s a time of recognizing that the universe goes on without us; that our deepest questions will not be answered. It’s a time to understand that the individual cannot correct or improve much that goes on around us (which doesn’t mean that we ought not try to improve our own small arenas). Our lives are eventually “finished” for us by nature, in disregard for our insistence that our life is essential to the universe and ought to go on forever.
It is shocking to confront the fact that so much human effort, creativity, hard labor, suffering, and resource depletion was, and still is, devoted to the pretend “immortality” of a few (not so admirable) individuals; Pharaohs, emperors, kings, dictators, war lords, ideologues, criminals, Popes and priests; not the best of humanity, but often the worst.
A few elite “socio-psychopathic predators” at the top may manage to purchase immortality of a limited sort: machines designed in their own image.
As if they really intend to share immortality with 15 billion humans!
Left: This is not King Tut. Right: The mortal King Tut, a malformed product of incest who died at age 19. How much human talent and potential has been wasted on the fantasy of immortality for a predatory class of individuals?