The Impending Demise of Old White Guys

TV ads these days have made me aware the country’s demographic is changing. Savvy advertisers are using more people of color and those living alternative lifestyles to sell their products. It only makes sense of course; old white guys are dying by the droves due not only to covid but to natural life span.

One doesn’t have to look too hard to see the desperate war of resistance the aging white population is waging. The political realm is rife with frenzied folks upset about the changing status quo, opposing the surge of youthful, socially and racially pluralistic energy, which is slowly, steadily driving the conventional beliefs of a previously white cultural dominance into extinction.

There are aspects of the new tolerance for fluid gender identity and sexual lifestyles that are difficult for me, given the social structures I have grown up with, to integrate. I firmly believe, though, change must happen. I sense in the young a positive life force asserting itself; one necessary to overcome the difficulties maintaining life as we know it will require.

Imaginings

I’ve been reading in the news lately political pundits and others in the know are suggesting, warning in some cases, that we are in danger of experiencing another civil war. The crux of the concern seems to be that with large numbers of us polarized as to what we perceive to be true, supported as we are by our chosen information sources, contradictory one side to the other, finding common ground seems unlikely. We find ourselves living in alternate realities and the more firmly we embrace our beliefs the more we fear the other. It’s common these days to see opponents demonized and violence perpetrated.

But, on the positive side there have recently been those on the political fringes calling for state secession. One can imagine a red state/blue state divide although I suppose there’d have to be some voluntary resettlement in order to consolidate realities. Once everyone was on their chosen side of the new international border it would seem peace would be obtainable. Narratives would evolve reflecting relative realities. There will of course be differing perspectives: a democracy on one side, totalitarianism on the other; one state operating according to logic and reason the other embracing the dictates of authority; basic trust in the peace and goodness of humanity on the one hand, paranoia driven preparation for armed conflict on the other. Family get-togethers will be difficult for those on opposite; sides of the fence and given the opposing opinions of the efficacy of science I guess another pandemic will not be good for the red staters.

Imagining a red/blue divide could produce a modicum of peace is hopeful, I suppose, but what is more likely, the mistrust inherent in such a philosophical chasm will feed the human need to demonize each other further.

It’s hard not to imagine mankind’s self-destruction.

Existential Angst

I’ve been thinking lately about the mechanisms we put in place to insulate ourselves, act as buffer between our daily existence and the uncertainty of what’s next. I’ve been reading that Hindus who have the means acquire the services of a seer, a guru who will foretell a personal future, what karmic fluctuations one might expect in one’s present incarnation. According to the Hindu cycle of time we are presently in the Kaliyuga, a period of immorality preceding catastrophic social upheaval, which, I guess, is why the Hindu faithful seek the advice of a guru.

Most everyone, I suppose, seeks to avoid confronting the unknown without a plan. Western religious dogmas pacify the faithful by promising an obtainable after-life. Stoics prepare themselves against psychic annihilation by keeping in mind worst case scenarios. The most secular among us lose themselves in all manner of distractions from doing good to living large. Those who recognize such distractions for what they are may rationalize non-existence will involve a peaceful transition.

I suppose if I had to pick a mechanism to ward of fear of the unknown, I might lean toward Hinduism which is pretty attractive at least from a cultural distance. It’s more exotic, less familiar than traditional western religions and the statuary and temples of and to the pantheon of very interesting gods and goddesses is spectacular. I’ll keep Hinduism in mind the next time I’m in the market for a mechanism to deflect existential angst. I realize such flippancy might seriously deplete my karmic capital. I could find myself a minor insect next life.

Cognitive Biases

I’ve been reading that cognitive biases interfere with nearly everyone’s decision making. There are quite a number of ways that clear thinking is undermined by personal prejudices, intuitive imaginings, simplistic assumptions, unrelated beliefs or refusal to accept information inconsistent with previously accepted knowledge.

The idea of cognitive biases explains, it seems to me, how those of us sharing a fairly common reality can arrive at such diverse opinions about the political, religious and social issues we find ourselves facing daily. There’s a considerable discrepancy as to what constitutes fact. Sometimes our sources gain such credibility we allow their ‘truth’ beyond questioning; makes me think of the Groucho Marx line: “Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?”

I guess in many cases biases aren’t a serious problem but there are issues needed to be faced these days that mustn’t be denied, cast off as fake news. And to be fair, there are indications many are beginning to look toward the future: carbon sequestration projects, carbon credits for CO2 reductions, a move toward recognizing citizenship for future generations all point to a growing awareness of the importance of maintaining the health of the earth. History and human nature do suggest it takes a blatantly obvious impending doom or maybe even actual devastation for humankind to come together and act. It appears we may be closing in on such an event.

Balancing Risk and Desire

I’ve been reading about balancing risk and desire when the desire is fed by the risk. As I think about my wayward college days when smoking marijuana was as much about defying the man as it was about enjoying the effects of the drug, I realize ‘toking up’ made me feel like a solid member of the anti-establishment, anti-war hippy crowd even though inhaling was about as far as my social protest went.

Now, as I age, my desires are tempered, more thoughtful, I’m less inclined toward risky behaviors. But then I think about why risks are taken in the first place. It’s because risks successfully taken are life affirming, adrenaline pumping, provide a glimpse of (imagined) immortality, experiences sorely lacking in my present daily existence.

So, today I did something I’ve never done before. My mother always warned me about thin ice, so I tried some early season skating anyway. I fell through the ice. The experience was fairly unpleasant but it did alter my usual mundane routine.

A Dystopian Future

I’ve been thinking, lately, of dystopian futures. Such story lines aren’t difficult to find in science fiction, are actually pretty common the best ones being those that are most believable. Common narratives spin a future Dark Age resulting from nuclear disaster, perhaps, or, more believable still, the collapse of civilization due to lethal pandemic. Catastrophic loss of life usually results and those few souls remaining revert to animal behaviors in order to survive. The loss of basic needs collapses moral imperative: theft, murder even cannibalism become the rule.

The abundance of such stores has me wondering about the human psyche, how inclined we may be to expect existential disaster. The reality of global climate change increases our psychosis, the nightly news feeds our discomfort and keeps immanent disaster fresh in our minds.

It’s pretty easy to see why some of us seek solace in spiritual endeavors that promote belief in a worry-free afterlife. As for me, I’m inclined to refocus on the mantra ‘right here, right now’ and celebrate the natural beauty immediately before me.

The Market

So, as I understand it the market depends on the consumer whose purchasing power depends on the sale of goods produced by the consumer whose wages ensure the consumers’ purchasing power which ensures the product will be purchased.

Everything proceeds along okay as long as there aren’t any linkage problems in the chain, like interruptions in acquiring the necessary pieces required to produce the product which might result in job layoffs which then reduce the consumers’ purchasing power, and which eventually, considerably increases the cost of the unavailable pieces the products’ manufacture require making the product more expensive and perhaps out of reach of the consumers’ now limited resources. The product is no longer affordable, manufacture shuts down: no wages, no consumers, no product.

Thought about in such terms, life seems pretty tenuous dependent as it is on the cooperation of a population of independent souls often at odds with each other. It may be time to thank my neighbor for his part in keeping the chain in tact.

Impending Doom

I guess this time of year invites morbid thoughts: nature receding into dormancy as it is, temperatures dropping to inhospitable levels. Then there’s the growing disaster of climate change that our politicos seem unwilling or unable to address in any meaningful way, the partisan reality disconnect dividing us into hostile tribes and who can forget the ominous persistence of the dreaded virus.

What I need is a catharsis, a jolt of adrenalin to lift me from this debilitating depression. I was reading that the horror genre is beneficial as a means of escaping the sense of gloom one finds oneself in at times; that horror films can help one find a fresh outlook. Seeing Jason about to slice up an unaware teenager and the like produces an adrenalin rush, so the article suggests, ushering in a revival of energy to go along with a thankfulness one is in one’s living room rather than in a cabin at Camp Crystal Lake.

It makes sense to me; I think I’ll revisit some of the films that have terrified me in the past; maybe start with Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte. Betty Davis’ take on insanity caused me nightmares for quite some time.

The Mythological Us

I’ve been reading about the ancient Spartans and how research has determined they weren’t as ‘spartan’ as mythology would suggest, that, in fact, they were as unwilling to put themselves in life-threatening situations as anyone else and that they appreciated the arts of poetry and music.

This revelation has me thinking about what sort of mythology might evolve from our contemporary reality in, say, 2000 years’ time. Given that history is a narrative and stories are interpreted and change, one wonders how we’ll be seen. I’m thinking the images of our modern selves won’t be all that wonderful. There will be good things to think about us I suppose: our intellectual energy producing, as we have, wonders in medicine, science and communication technologies, but any overview of contemporary us by our future descendants will have to take into account the dubious ethical behaviors we’ve engaged in the fight to control the earth’s resources and claim the wealth as our own.

Whatever future mythology develops about us from the actions of our twenty-first century selves is pretty hard to guess; I’m just hoping there are folks still around to make an evaluation.

The Illusion of Freedom

I’ve been thinking, lately, about what constitutes freedom. I imagine a freedom of movement, to travel undeterred, to acquire whatever man be required to ensure a semblance of safety.

Now I find the idea of ‘freedom’ has taken on political nuance: those who oppose vaccination demand the freedom to choose in spite of science informing us the virus will mutate, be with us much longer than it might have if most of us were vaccinated. The anti-vaxxers oppose vaccine requirements with demonstrations, touting ‘my body my choice’, which in itself is pretty interesting since many of these same folks refuse to accept a woman’s right to abortion.

I guess I should count myself fortunate that I can still find temporary solace in my local environs, seek short-term get-a-ways to recharge and realize the inherent freedom such affords.