We seem to be living in a world of grab and go, me-me-me, selfishness and get-outta-my-way politics. The social norm now is definitely non-social. In fact “social media” has become a real oxymoron. It’s about as cold, self-serving and uncaring as it is possible to get.
Small tribes exist and people stay (somewhat) loyal to their own kind. But everyone else, it seems, is just an annoyance at best… and truly expendable, at the worst end of the caring spectrum.
Now there’s a thing: I’ve been sharing my spectrum of love and connectedness for decades. But maybe its time to work up the idea of a “spectrum of caring” and see where we all fit on it? Let me acknowledge my good pal Gerda Flöckinger CBE, for the inspiration that pulled the trigger!
She is the first living female to have an exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum (1971 and again in 1986). In 1991, she was recognized by Queen Elizabeth II for her contribution to the arts (notably jewelry) and was awarded the title of CBE.
[Love prompts me to point out that my wife Vivien had her design work exhibited at the V and A too; but that was just part of bigger exhibition, not a solo].
Gerda challenged me as follows: “You write sagely and honestly in a time when quality, decency, honour and duty head the list of lost qualities.
“At age 94 I remember so clearly the end of the War in 1945 and it seemed like no one would ever choose such miseries again. That was a long time ago, long long gone now. Even democracy is teetering on a thread in the US and here in the UK now. I don’t know how the qualities we admire and the decency we aimed for those years ago could be achieved now. If you find a way please tell me how that goes and I will join you.”
Right Darling, I accept the call. Let’s see how this would look!
The first thing to share is the very positive response I got from my piece entitled “The Conflict of Interest Hall of Fame”, in which I lambasted the crude dishonesty of the US Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) for purporting to hold the line in quality nutritional science, while yet their leaders were taking money from a number of ultra-processed food companies. PLUS they had invested heavily in several food and pharmaceutical conglomerates, all of which was in direct conflict to their supposed teachings.
Yes, I know it’s the way the world is going. But it is not supposed to be that way. The public at large are entitled to rely on the honesty and integrity of groups, foundations and academies that are being paid to hold a particular scientific line.
Anyway, a lot of people it seems are angry, disillusioned and frustrated by the kind of corporate criminality I outlined. Actually, writing that reminds me of a super-cool phrase from professor Sam Epstein (1926 – 2018), author of The Politics of Cancer: he began writing about “white collar criminals”, meaning the office executives, in posh white shirts, cheating, lying and covering up the damage to human health caused by their businesses (for monetary gain, need I say). They never get arrested or jailed but they are true criminals nonetheless.
SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE. Well, let’s take a stab at it together. Remember the immortal words of US anthropologist Margaret Meade (1901 – 1978)—she wrote: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
And what shall we call ourselves: Rachels Ranters (after Rachel Carson)? The Happy-Go Luckies? Older and Wiser, By Far? The Senile Savants? Haha!
I blame the women! Sophia Loren, Dyane Cannon, Joan Collins, Raquel Welch and the like seemed to grow ever more beautiful as the years went by. They defied aging! The men followed suit, of course. There was Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Richard Gere, Gregory Peck… and Dustin Hoffman looks pretty good at 85!
The exciting thing is that the Third Age is growing so much it now has the largest population. From 50 years ago, when it was unusual for people to live much beyond 65 (so-called “life expectancy”), it has now become the norm to live beyond 65 years. Those of you who have read my book Aging Without Growing Old will remember one of the exciting statistics I quoted: of all the people who have ever reached the age of 65 years, half of us are still alive!
Not only that but older people are the most successful biological human group; indeed age is the most obvious reason for the success of Humankind. As I wrote in AWGO, aging is a wondrous process that has more positives than negatives:
“Middle age and beyond is not something most species get to live through. New scientific ideas suggest that this vital later phase of life is precisely why human beings have ended up taking over the planet!
“If you are over 50, pat yourself on the back for being Nature’s most highly evolved organism. Biologically and socially, you are streets ahead of the youngsters who hog today’s limelight!
“Today we can read books and Google for information. But before the advent of writing, much less computers, skills had to be learned and it took time; decades in fact.
“Oftentimes, the necessary skills were not accumulated till after the age of 40. Surviving long enough to acquire these skills would be a strong evolutionary advantage, which would be selected for by Nature.
“These skills would be passed on to other members of the tribe and that would give them the advantage over competitors, whether the human kind or the sabre-toothed kind! We would quickly “develop” a middle age, even if we didn’t start with one.
“Middle age [and beyond] would be a valuable commodity that Nature chose for us! Important changes take place in middle age which, although we resist them, do seem to have positive qualities. Most body systems deteriorate very little during this stage of life. We just start to look different (not true of most species). But the mind could be stronger, not weaker.”
The evolved mature adult, which we call middle-aged, may be just about the most advanced thing existing on the planet! That creature is so full of knowledge and skills that he or she is able to conquer the environment.
I am now well past middle age, in fact I have successfully exceeded the average life expectancy for a man. That makes me the kind of doctor you should listen to! I understand aging and vitality more than so-called health “researchers”. I don’t consider this old age but I do think of myself as an accomplished and wise person. We all are, once we reach our Third Age.
So let us celebrate our coming of age in wisdom! We know the answers. Even those who sometimes cheat and lie have surely discovered, by now, that it doesn’t actually work! The apparent slight edge you may gain is paid for heavily in lost love and friendship, soured relationships and outright failures. Cupidity is a delusional state. That’s reason enough for maintaining honesty and integrity.
I’m not saying it is holy to be poor; that’s a negative standard promoted by the Christians. But I am saying that our hearts and souls are worth more than mere money, ESPECIALLY AS WE DRAW NEAR TO THE END!
If there is one thing that matters to us at the end of life, it’s not wealth, it’s fulfillment. And that’s why I am appealing to you now; let us make a stand; let us coordinate our desires for a better world. We have the know-how, we have the courage (surely), we have little to lose, in truth—but everything to gain.
I’d like to leave the world a better place than I found it and am appalled that the core human value, referred to by my friend Gerda, DECENCY has receded almost into obscurity. The internet hyenas, trolls and scammers think they are taking over the world. But they are not; they are merely reducing it to a cess pit of greed and dishonesty. Peeing on the roses isn’t controlling anything; it’s just messing up the garden!
Are you with me? Do you want to see evil swept from the world? If so, register your interest at my special domain, here: ThirdAgeWisdom.com Just sign up, I’ll send you a copy of one of my 1994 essays HONESTY, THE SURPRISE TOOL and you’ll be notified of our online gatherings.
There is no plan to monetize this. This is a social and scientific project, not a commercial enterprise. So information and materials will all be available for FREE!
See you over there!
To your good health,
Prof. Keith Scott-Mumby
The Official Alternative Doctor
PS. Just 10,000 members, with an average age of 70 years and upwards, would be equivalent to nearly a million collective years of wisdom and experience. Phew! That’s a powerful engine for change.
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