Old age is not a disease: Marc Blesoff in the Wisdom Factory
On Friday, June 23rd, 2017 Marc Blesoff was in conversation at The Wisdom Factory with Heidi and Mark about the topic
AGEING IN PRISON
Read below an article, written by Marc Blesoff and published in a local newspaper before and now on TheWisdomFactory.net. Reading his text inspired us to invite him to talk with us within the CONSCIOUS AGEING series. He presently is conducting workshops for the ageing population in prison — a group of people who is hardly ever in our conscious awareness. It promises to be a very interesting and informative talk!
Old is not bad. Older people are not suffering a disease called aging.
Everything is possible
Depending upon one’s worldview, the last third of life actually gets better!
However, if you think that life peaks in middle age and then it’s all downhill after that, then that’s what you’ll get. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Inside the ark that the Israelites carried through the wilderness for 40 years there were two sets of tablets bearing the Ten Commandments. The second set was whole. The first set was shattered in pieces, broken after having been smashed to the ground by Moses.
Life is both wholeness and brokenness, birth and death. Aging is not a disease.
We are on the front end of a process that is educating us about ageism. This is helping us to change our thinking about and actions regarding older people in our industrialized societies. What has previously passed as ‘just the way things are’ will no longer be acceptable or tolerated. Ageism will soon be joining the likes of racism, sexism, and homophobia on the wrong side of the moral arc of the universe.
Which is not to say we can just flip a switch and overnight these prejudices will be gone and everyone will change their minds. But becoming aware of something about which we’d previously been clueless affords one the opportunity to change. Awareness doesn’t guarantee change, it allows the possibility.
Ashton Applewhite is an articulate, energetic thought leader and activist who is helping galvanize our awareness about ageism. She has written a book titled This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism. It is thoughtful, well-written and it provides an important glimpse at the elephant in the room named ageism.
(watch the conversation with Ashton Applewhite in our Conscious Ageing series HERE)
Never in human history have so many lived so long.
JoAnn Jenkins, the CEO of AARP, writes, “From the beginning of the modern calendar to 1900, life expectancy increased each year by an average of three days. Since 1900 it has increased by an average of 110 days a year. We added more years to average life expectancy in the last century than in all previous history combined.” Globally, human beings are living much longer and having fewer babies.
Dr. Jack Rowe has commented, “There are some who would say that we as a society cannot afford the greatest gift we’ve ever achieved in humankind, which is longer life. If we look at aging the way we have for the last 200 years, we will turn it into a crisis rather than a celebration.”
A crisis rather than a celebration — both societally and personally.
Since the Industrial Revolution, our standard model of aging (with some variations on the theme) has been ‘work until retirement, wind down quietly for 2 or 3 years, become invisible and then get warehoused’. But today, those 2 or 3 years of winding down quietly are more like 20 or 30 years.
Humans are at the beginning of a change we can sense but we don’t understand very well yet.
Aging/Longevity, like the recently discovered dark energy, is everywhere. We can’t see it clearly yet, we don’t have good language for it yet, but we are starting to know it is there. (It wasn’t that long ago when there wasn’t a phase called adolescence — children got older and then were considered adults.) How can we think outside the box when we don’t know the box exists?
“We can get pretty attached to what we think is true, important and real — even when presented with evidence to the contrary. To a great extent, our worldview determines what we’re capable of seeing and therefore determines our perception of reality. What our worldview doesn’t expand to contain quite literally escapes our perception. We just don’t see it. This perception of reality colors our reactions and actions, every moment of every day.” (Living Deeply: The Art and Science of Transformation in Everyday Life)
Ram Dass has noted, “Once our culture begins to honor intuition, it will expiate the doubt that usually robs intuition of its power, and much of our worldview will change…Perhaps this is somewhat analogous to how the early explorers felt after the theory that the world was flat and that one could disappear over its edge was replaced by the spherical concept of our planet. What courage that theory must have released, thus allowing explorers to go fearlessly into the unknown.”
We are way behind the aging curve. We need to go fearlessly into this unknown, fearlessly but guided by intention — in other words, consciously. One topic we need to explore fearlessly is ageism, one of the biggest elephants in the room.
Originally published at The Wisdom Factory.