Optimism Over All
My optimism about old age and what it can do to make life better for us all is tempered by the knowledge that human beings have squandered great wealth before and may do so again. Even now, social trends are working against the potential of a new old age. We live in a society that is changing even faster than we realize. We are being led away from the truth of human experience and toward a lie that places youth and the young alone at the pinnacle of human society. We are expected to find our way from birth to death with less and less to guide us. The old maps of human life are out of date. Childhood and elderhood were once understood to have their own virtues but are now measured by how well or how poorly the young and the old emulate the lives lived by adults. Our fascination with and worshipful attitude toward all things adult go well beyond simple preoccupation. Indeed, the devotion is so complete and so widespread that we can legitimately ask whether adulthood has come to function as a society-wide cult.