New Year’s Day 2024 came and went swiftly, moving us into the freezing winter weeks of January. Belatedly, I bid all a Happy New Year! I expect this will be a year filled with promise as well as trials. May God teach us through both.
Considering it’s an election year, I couldn’t help focus on how quickly things have heated up (metaphorically, anyway). At least one presidential hopeful caught my attention with a description of the US Senate as a “privileged nursing home.” Though others are more cagey with their rhetoric, similar opinions abound. The leaders of our country are old. How old? I did some research.
According to a report covering the 118th Congress (officials who took office in January 2023), the average age of the Senate is 64 years and the average age of the House of Representatives is 57 years. I’m not going to belabor the facts, except to point out there are currently twelve octogenarians in the House (435 seats) and fourteen additional representatives in their late 70s. The Senate (100 seats) has four octogenarians and one 90 year old. Yes, they’re old!
There’s a website, Super Aging, which attempts to provide a positive spin on age and longevity, highlighting their Amazon bestseller Super Aging with its provocative subtitle – Getting Older Without Getting Old.
ASIDE: Seriously? Without getting old? Who are they trying to fool? In high school history class, we studied the Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León (1474-1521) who received a royal charter to hunt down a mythical Fountain of Youth during his explorations of the New World. Sadly, Ponce didn’t even manage to reach old age, dying in his mid-40s.
The quest for a fountain of youth continues. Sports and medical organizations hope to find that magic pill which might postpone the inevitable! Big Pharma develops drugs like Donepezil and Memantine to serve the burgeoning market of desperate people facing memory issues and worn-out bodies. Ever heard of Cryonics … or Neuropreservation?
Baby boomers have always defied conventional wisdom, right? Our brains balk at the reality of time’s inexorable march. Numerous celebrity icons in their 70s and 80s churn out movies and music and books to demonstrate their intentions to remain “ageless” and seemingly productive. I guess we shouldn’t expect politicians would be any different.
It’s fair to say (I think) my generation has done lots of good things, after what some might have termed a rough start. Yes, we’ve also created our share of problems along the way. Reflecting on a curious theme of trusting no one over thirty (credited to a 60s activist named Jack Weinberg), I wrote the sonnet below.
The idea of trusting the younger generation may not sit well with some of our senior leaders, those in the 60, 70, 80-plus age cohort. But I think one podcaster got it right, suggesting it’s time for baby boomers to permit younger generations their chance to shine. Who knows? Things might actually improve!