As we all know, ‘Senior Citizen’ is a euphemism for ‘old age.’ Not too long ago, the words ‘elder’ and ‘elderly’ were still used by some people, but those words are rapidly fading from everyday English. And the word ‘morality’ is used gingerly for fear of being perceived as ‘old fashioned.’
Having swept linguistic prejudices and preferences aside all my life, and at the whopping age of ninety-five-years-old, I submit minuscule examples of the thoughts and feelings I have about current attitudes. Note that however astutely the construction of a euphemism may be, it does not alter the reality of its meaning, it merely softens it a bit. Weird.
There had always been a balanced and reasonable social distance between teenagers and adults in terms of work places, parties, and other social events. Now, there is a studied silence from a teenager who enters a space, such as a small room, where someone else already is in that room. Through the entire encounter silence is never broken. There is not a simple ‘hi’ or ‘bye’ uttered. It is as though the ‘other’ person is not present. Virtually all teenagers are neither disturbed nor embarrassed by the lack of acknowledgement of the other’s presence. Their lack of communication is absolute. Weird.
Television perpetually dominates attention in the home at all times…with the possible exception of a wake. The family engages in conversations over and throughout the nonstop sound of television, even when it is entertaining guests, unexpected or otherwise. This modern phenomenon obviates the very reason for people to conjoin in the first place. When I observe eyes surreptitiously glancing at the screen while someone is speaking to them, I’m embarrassed for both of them. I’m also reminded of the severe lack of focus which is rampant in the majority of today’s social and familial daily encounters while the ever-on television is an audible and visual elephant in the room.
I am in awe of the incomparable advance of technology during my lifetime, but I am also concerned about the ever-decreasing dignity of many government officials, other celebrities, and average folks as well. And yes, ‘dignity’ is another word that is fading from everyday English. But the consequences of the lack of dignity is implacably diminishing the essence of what made America a model for democracy.
Our democracy is not an ‘experiment,’ as it is often called, but rather the result of the heroism and brilliant rationality of American governmental leaders and the soldiers who fought for America’s independence in the late 18th century. Of course the right of free speech and peaceful assembly are the cornerstones of the Declaration of Independence. Yet, there are both citizens and alien individuals in large numbers who hate the United States.
The specter of “danger from within” still looms over the United States. It burns hotly in hate speech and in social media. It is mostly propagated at political and educational institutions. I directly experienced the latter when I was a student at New York University decades ago. When I speak politics to current university students, I hear echoes of some of my former Civics Studies and History professors. Like my student contemporaries then, today’s students are not necessarily conscious (let alone informed), about the fundamental difference between socialism and democracy.
The recent midterm election was really about 2024. The 49 to 51 split for the senate was ironically more about the past than about the present and future, and more importantly it was about individual political careers rather than what’s best for the nation. I hope there will be a re-set for both candidates and voters in 2024.
When both parties claim that the other party is at the cusp of destroying our democracy, it’s time to put aside petty grievances and replace them with rational choices based on individual candidates and platforms of both parties and then choose which party is better for the nation at this time, e.g. a touch of the parliamentary process for elections in the variant democracies of Israel and the United Kingdom.
Of course, at the voting booth you can vote for only one administration at the General Election, but the choice for one administration which consists of the best candidates, is one way to make the right choice for the nation. Half a loaf of bread is better than none.