. Beth is Baffled! | London Progressive Journal
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Beth is Baffled!

Sun 19th Jan 2020

No One’s Getting Any Younger
As I inch toward my 78th birthday it’s not just frustrating, but inexplicable why the number of my age should provoke dismissal, even disdain. Whatever happened to assessing my mental acuity, loyalties, or social empathy. Actually, it’s more than frustrating… it’s enraging!

The older I get the less I know for sure. I’m not even convinced there is such a thing as ‘for sure.’

Yep, It’s a platitude, no less true, though. The longer you live the more each day is déjà vu all over again. No real patterns, just lotsa repeats. No predestination, but plenty of indignation by people too young to remember the social context first time around.
Everything’s fair game for re-invention. But, go back far enough, and the opinions of designated elders were sought, if not slavishly adopted. Notice I said elders, not leaders. That position has lately been replaced by clowns even more disturbed and insidious than Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker.

But look hard enough and you’ll see evidence that a rare handful of indigenous tribes still heed their elders today, recognizing their wisdom needs to be passed down, generation to generation. Herding reindeer. Darting rainforest birds. Digging sweet water wells. Grilling grubs. Fletching arrowheads. Collecting honey. Dancing neath the moon.

In fact, all intelligent socially bonded animal follow a similar pattern of development, notably whales and dolphins, elephants, a few bird species, and all the apes. It’s a province of complex brains and the ability to adapt; everyone else relies primarily on instinct to shape behaviour.

We humans, like all those parents, are also their devoted teachers… unless they’re emotionally disturbed sociopaths. But most are at least well-meaning; for the length of their childhoods our babies are dependent on carers, whether genetically related or not. Because there’s so much to learn, such life lessons can take ten years or more.

That’s why rescue centres for endangered species exist for the rehabilitation of babies whose mothers have been killed for bush meat and/or to destroy their habitat. They understand the direct links to maintain the bio-diversity essential to all life on earth. And, of course, they’re faced every day with the severe emotional trauma, those long-lasting invisible scars of children so bereft.

Given today’s headlines pinpointing the UK’s focus on the mental health of princes and paupers, how unenlightened we are to let slip such a social priority. It should take precedence over questions of profit. Fat chance on our agenda of greed.

But not all that long ago came a breakthrough. We created written records, storing them for future reference. The very fact of having lived for this many or that many years became less and less a reason to consult, let alone to regard the elders as the fount of all wisdom. Truth givers imparting truth unto truth seekers.

Next year this tree will be loaded with fruit. When the rains come, this river will drown itself and bring many thirsty animals. These pounded roots will make a paste to cure your zits. Do not stare into the sun or you will go blind. Do not be tempted to buy the Tower of Pisa at any price.

The irony is that with so much knowledge of the past tucked away in libraries or The Cloud, new generations are skirting around the truth. There’s so much else to capture the attention, leaving solutions and policy making in the paws of fewer and fewer people. And, fair or not, most of them are ill-equipped and incompetent to handle such power.

So One Day You Wake Up And …
In the public gaze your casual comfy appearance has somehow been replaced by a tight blue-haired perm and a twin-set and pearls. I mean, even though they can’t see me either on my landline or my eMail message… that’s what they’re thinking. Bastards!

Are you, too, bothered about the division between generations? I don’t mean milestones of adolescence, especially within our present society with teens eagerly searching to take control of their own lives, daring to risk making mistakes, biting the parental hands that feed them. That’s par for the course for a species that needs to break from babyhood. For, even in societies composed of extended families, all sharing space and provisions and stories, eventually either the sons or daughters will seek new alliances, if only to refresh the gene pool. Incest remains a taboo apparently wherever you are.

No, I mean the deliberate fomenting of division by age. The perps are a vile coalition between populist media, the governing elite, global business interests, and a tranche of society whose expertise in PR and legalese presents the most simplistic options to old and young alike for the benefit of profiting from their confusion.

Are my grey hairs and various wrinkles a sign of dementia or the natural transition from one year to another. Do I need a ‘miracle skin cream’ … or a hug?

Pitting generations against each other is usually a distraction from the more important matters of the day. You know the kind of thing… war, trade barriers, loss of human rights, lack of animal welfare, and most especially, the watering down of effective action against climate change.

Readers of this column know my passionate support both for Greta Thunberg and Sir David Attenborough… the one young enough to be my grand-daughter, the other old enough to be my dad. True, 82-year-old London jazz sax player Rex Martey just signed his first record deal. And both Diana Ross and Sir Paul McCartney [both the same age as me], are slated to headline at Glastonbury.

I can point you to other notable golden oldies in fields from sports to science. My respect is for their ideas. And yet, we’re all caught in the net of someone else’s power. Because that’s the point… we are simply not in control of our own lives. Please do not blame me!

Control Freaks or Even Viagra Won’t Fix This Impotence
I don’t claim to know everything, but the blobs of my expertise have been shaped and tested and certainly hold true since I popped into the world. Wherever you live and whatever your assessment of world events, more and more people have stopped paying attention to the biggest threats and changes that directly affect them.

It’s just too daunting to be reminded of our own impotence. Driving such apathy is the engine of trust. Statements are too easy to deny, however relevant. Photographs too easy to doctor. And policy-makers too easy to ignore on the basis they’ll do whatever they want, and then lie about it.

In the face of such stasis, it’s more than tempting to seek control of any aspect of your life. When the same old/same old choices of a straight-life lose any meaning, we seek alternates. Seek retreat from society. Self-harm. Get high. Volunteer in a remote part of the world. Commit crimes and make sure you get caught. Play all kinds of games. Gamble. Compete on a telly show. Remove your underwear. Marry yourself. Write a stand-up act.

So, yeah, I’m baffled. All I can give you are my well-blended thoughts. They’ve taken a life-time to bake.
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