Sunday, October 30, 2011

O tempora! O mores! Part III

Is it a necessary part of growing older that we shake our heads over the times in which we live and those we live among, particularly those who are younger than we are?  I saw an old acquaintance yesterday, and he shared with me his concern regarding these times and our morals, specifically the morals of the often referred to younger generation.

Those concerns were what you would expect them to be, I would think, and seem to be those concerns which have concerned older people regarding younger people for some time, if not throughout the history of our very concerned species.  The young just out of school don't want to work as needed, but just as they like.  They don't believe they have anything more to learn.  They lack discipline and drive.  They are lost.  Their minds are filled with sex and violence by those who manufacture our entertainment and video games.  They don't believe in anything.

Eventually though, it seems they turn into older people who then have similar concerns regarding their children or those who come after them.

Perhaps this is a kind of Jungian race-memory that is activated when we reach a particular age.  Or perhaps we merely are given to complain about youth as our youth slips away, slowly but ever so surely.

It is likely, however, that there is more to be concerned about in these times, which are necessarily ours because they cannot be anyone else's.  There are less jobs available than there were, it seems, so fewer of us will have the opportunity to focus on them to the exclusion of other things.  There are more people, and less resources, than there were.  We are dissatisfied.  Things fall apart, the center cannot hold, mere anarchy, etc.  We've heard that all before as well, haven't we?

Yes.  But it may be that there is more reason to feel that way in our times, because there are more of us, and less of everything else, and it seems that this will become more and more the case.

Something should be done and remarkably it appears we have begun to actually believe something should be done.  As that is the case, it is possible we may even do something, sometime, about it.  But it isn't clear anyone knows what to do, and in fact it seems clear that those we consider our leaders or those who consider themselves our leaders don't know what to do, or are inclined to do nothing which has not been tried in the past.  Here in this Glorious Republic, it's true that our leaders or those who want to be our leaders want to do more of what has been tried in the past, perhaps even much more of what has been tried in the past, but this is not a comforting thought. 

It's probable that we will find ourselves obliged to radically change the manner in which we live by the course of events, as we are never inclined to change our habits or the way we conduct our lives willingly.  But it would make a great deal more sense to adjust ourselves to account for what will soon be a very different world than to allow ourselves to be adjusted forcibly and in what will be an unpleasant manner.

How should we adjust ourselves?  We must acknowledge limitations, and learn to live within them.  Self-control is something we must learn, and that is not something we are inclined to, as we are given to indulge ourselves if we can.  But our opportunities to do so will become fewer and fewer, and the consequences of doing so will become progressively more dire.

Of course, my inclination is to assert that a Stoic point of view is something that we would all benefit from.  We would be well advised to treat certain things as indifferent as those things will become scarce.  We would be well advised to accept that there are things beyond our control and that we should not concern ourselves with them, but rather do the best we can with what we have, what we can control.  We should understand that among the things in our control is our desire for self-indulgence and lust for things, money and power.  Most of all we should learn to respect others and not seek to control or harm them, but let them live their lives in dignity and reasonable comfort.   

If we don't things may fall apart, sooner rather than later.

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