I received an email last evening. It had one line. A question.
“Do you think people should only live to 75 to make room for the up and comers”
That got my attention.
It was from a person I love, who had turned 75 last week, and if you didn’t know she was 75, you would not have a clue. She is vibrant, a go-getter, active, a thinker and a doer. And she is still learning.
My thoughts stumbled for a second. When I was thinking of interesting books or movie ideas, I had thought of one about, what if when you turned 75 or 80, you were put to death … by the government. Mandated to die. I thought the moral dilemmas of such a situation would be very interesting. Pulse, looking at the lives of people who knew that their lives would be over on a certain date, how would they live?
The woman who sent me the question, also sent me an article that she had read, whose title was, “Should you hope to die at 75?” It was written by a 57 year old man named Ezekiel Emanuel. I am attaching it to this post.
I am 67. With that premise, I have 8 years left before I would be mandated to die. Eat one last cheese coney and leave this world and my parking space to another life.
Ezekiel’s argument is, basically, you are over the hill at that age, your value to society is gone, and you are an expensive burden.
The article I read, which was a rebuttal to Emanuels essay, was written by DamonLinker, and its title was, “Should you hope to die at 75? Absolutely Not”.
Yes, there are days when I am so tired or feel the world caving in, that I have thought, okay, Jose, put a fork in me, I am done. But after a night’s sleep, morning comes, and I am raring to go … take on life and create some joy.
After reading Emanuel’s essay, I felt awful. He picked apart and focused on the aspects of aging that, in his mind, made life not worth living. He saw sickness, dementia, frailty, ugliness. He saw nothing good. It was obvious he thought old was ugly. Useless. And he didn’t want to ever be seen like that.
There is a part of that that I understand. I have thought, mostly about movie stars like James DEan, Natalie Wood, Marilyn Monroe, etc, that they will be remembered as young, vivacious, full of life. Yet they paid a price for that. They didn’t get to live into old age. They are set in society’s mind as the ideal.
Society. That often sick word. The group setting of what is construed as what individuals should aspire to please.
Especially, in this country, old age is not honored. It is shunned. Billions of dollars are spent on trying to make ourselves look younger, feel younger, think younger.
Society and much of the media focus on how great youth is and with each age we achieve in our lives, they devalue us a little more.
Yes, there are many things about aging that are difficult, down right hard, and icky.
But there are a lot of things about youth that are difficult, down right hard, and icky.
Life, at any age, is hard.
But it is also, a gift.
To have the mindset that any age of being alive has little value, is a mistake.
Yes, healthcare of the aging population is expensive. But so is trying to keep a premature baby alive.
You can argue, but at least that premature baby has a future, can contribute to society, but that is no guarantee. And to say that an old person has no value to family or society, is not necessarily true, either.
Is not giving love, telling the stories of life, showing a child that the raised veins in your hands are a roadmap of the life you have lived, valuable? Does talking to an old person or taking an old person to a doctor, not teach us kindness, humility, and the circle of life?
Not to mention, many people who are in their 70s, 80s, and 90s, are still on the learning culver of life. They are curious, inventive, add color, to a culture that has increasingly become one dimensional.
Am I comfortable with my age? Eh. It just is. I am still me. Still learning. Still thinking, creating, finding joy in smaller things and trying to bring a light to the world, by sharing.
Yep, I sag, I stoop, I have weird skin thingies, I move slower, yet, I still see myself as having value to my family and to this world.
Will there come a time when Ibecome more of what is considered to be a ‘burden’?
I don’t know. I hope not.
I have my own mandate for dealing with heath and treatment issues as time goes by. I don’t not want to live forever. At least on earth. But to have a government mandate the date on which I will die?
Uh, you’ve got to be kidding. I don’t trust governments farther than I can throw them.
The end of my life will come when God or gravity decide.
Or when I run out of cheese coneys.