—From CB—

In the past I’ve read posts about racism, sexism, etc., and tried to distinguish between folks making rational points and pissed-off folks just ranting. But I’ve not felt personally involved. Now I’m moved to post about “ageism.”

I’m 82, and it strikes home. I’m not directly affected: I don’t seek a job, and some folks even open doors for me. True, I can’t get a literary agent, as no one would make any money from me over the long run, but that was probably true thirty years ago, when I had one—she died.

Nor am I vitally concerned with the “creeping invisibility” factor that hits men at the point when you no longer look like a rapist: I’m used to it. Maybe it’s because I’m shy, or a left-over condition from high school, where I got good grades and consequently didn’t fit in, but it’s been only on stage that I’m visible, because then I’m a more interesting somebody-else.

I’m more concerned with national politics. I see daily headlines about Joe Biden’s “gaffes” but nothing about Trump’s ambling, rambling, utterly demented speeches. That’s not “news,” that shows he says what he thinks. As to Biden’s gaffes: I myself have many moments of not remembering names, and of having to use the thesaurus to find words. That’s a part of aging, and I have no trouble making a choice between “senile” and “long in the tooth,” depending on the context. I certainly admit to being the latter.

At last resort, I should launch into a speech castigating my fourth-grade teacher and all the migrants who’re writing best-sellers. If I do it loud enough and often enough, I’ll be lauded as tough-minded enough to make our enemies cringe.

In the meantime, what’s to be done in more general terms? Senility is a medical condition; it can be diagnosed or ruled out. Other medical conditions give credence to the saw that old age isn’t for wimps. More problematic, for me, are other common cliches of age.

“Stuck in the past” is an euphemism for “close-minded,” and it’s inarguable that the past plays a role in one’s thinking, starting with my mother’s admonition to look both ways before I cross the street. Yes, there’s the danger of not adapting to new technology—I don’t do texting, both because I type very slowly with my thumb, and because I don’t like a dozen new ways to miss your message.

Other ways of being closed-minded? It’s my observation that younger folks—which includes almost everyone now—are more prone, not less, to adopt the “flavor of the day.” Who else would try bubblegum-flavored ice cream?

I readily admit that people of my generation have problems. I hate to drive at night, Balance uncertainties, sleeplessness, and so on, not to mention other less mentionable details. But assuming that particular people who belong to a demographic have all the characteristics associated with that grouping, I think, is bigoted, plain and simple.

Everyone—any age, any race, any social standing—very easily falls victim to the idea that they’re persecuted, that others are more privileged, lazier, dumber, more something, less other. Is it economic disparity, one of thirty billion ism’s, or just grading on the curve? Maybe we’re back to Jimmy Carter, where great tumult was made of “malaise.” Maybe there’s no one answer, but I feel it’s profound.

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