Elder musings

A wise old owl

I recently read an article in the local newspaper regarding a retired, 75-year-old man who had become so deeply in debt that he felt he had no alternative but to rob a bank. He wasn’t very good at it and was caught almost immediately. The article went on to report that this “elderly man” would be charged with a felony. What caught my eye there was the characterization of this guy as “elderly”. So, apparently, I have at most only three more years until I am considered to be elderly, at least in the eyes of the local press corps.

Regardless of how one might characterize a person of my vintage, it is often assumed that us graybeards must be wise as well as old, right? Well, I can assure you that is not always the case. But given the benefit of the doubt, if I am so old and, ergo, sage, then, just what, exactly, have I learned over all these years? Hmmm. Well, here are a few aphorisms I can share with you, in no particular order.

  1. many people (if not most) in America, and throughout the world for that matter, do not have the intellectual capacity to effectively participate in self-governance (see 10 & 14, below).
  1. Many Americans do not like the First Amendment when they discover that it applies to everyone.
  1. Confirmed: “A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.” (Paul Simon, The Boxer, see 1, above).
  1. There will always be some level of racial bigotry in any society as long as there is more than one race.
  1. There will always be some level of religious bigotry in any society as long as there is more than one religion.
  1. Many, if not most, Americans do not actually understand how capitalism works.
  1. Similarly, many Americans, if not most, do not understand how socialism works or how fascism works or how communism works.
  1. There will always be rich people and poor people in any society regardless of its laws, form of government or economic model.
  1. There will always be sociopaths, psychopaths and various lunatics who will prey on the rest of us in one manner or another using whatever means accessible to them.
  1. There will always be fraudsters, swindlers, schemers and charismatics who will prey on the weak, ignorant, slow-witted and naive given the slightest opportunity regardless of a society’s laws, form of government or economic model (see 1, above).
  1. There will always be corruption among many of those directly or indirectly affiliated with government regardless of a society’s laws, form of government or economic model (see 1, above).
  1. There will be no end to the desire of many to gain power over others (see 10 and 11, above).
  1. Political power is most effectively acquired a little bit at a time so as not to be noticed by those from whom the power is being acquired (see 1, 10 and 11, above).
  1. Confirmed: Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. (Lord Acton, 1887.)
  1. The squeaky wheels always get the grease even when they are tiny minorities. And especially so when there is an overabundance of media outlets desperate to find something to talk or write about.
  1. Hyperbole attracts an audience (see 15, above).
  1. America is doomed without an uncorrupted free press (see 10 – 14, above).
  1. In humanity’s unending struggle between good and evil, somehow love, kindness and hope seem to prevail in the long run. At least, so far (that would be the “hope” part).
  1. One is never too old to rob a bank.

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