(Put this blogsite in your bookmarks - Bruce Charlton's Notions – CL)
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.