The curse of longevity

Armstrong Williams | 11/14/2013, 4:41 p.m.
The Social Security Act was passed in 1935 guaranteeing retirement pensions to all Americans over the age of 65.
Armstrong Williams

Once upon a time, kids became adults once they hit puberty, if not earlier. By adults, I mean folks who were thrust into positions of responsibility for themselves and their families. With no birth control, they had children younger and more of them; in the 1800s, American women averaged seven to 10 children. They needed those children though, because most families were farmers; more kids meant more hands during the harvest.

With maybe 40 years to make a mark, individual timelines dilated. In the scientific community, this would be a “fast-paced life.” More time and energy is devoted to maturing quickly and having babies.

A short life meant death was more accepted and that our legacy was our children. The young were meant to take over for the old as generations passed. This allowed for a constant renewal of society as the vibrancy of youth was perpetually taking charge.

An 80-year lifespan means that we began to live “slow-paced lives.” Although our biological maturation (puberty) has not changed, our mental/social maturation has. Without the rush to become responsible and procreate, we can spend more time “finding ourselves.” The longer we spend as an autonomous unit free from responsibility to others and family, the more selfish we become and the harder it is to adapt once we get married and/or try have a family. Even though the Internet makes us more connected, we have never been more alone or depressed.

Our 20s have become a time of extended adolescence. Poisoning our young bodies with drugs, binge drinking and non-stop sex has become a right of passage. We burn out the dopamine stimuli of what was once “normal” and have to seek ever greater dangers and depravities while convincing ourselves that we have plenty of time to recover and start a family once we get into our 30s.

We start families later: Women generally became mothers at 21 in 1900, and now they become mothers when they’re close to 30. After being used to only looking out for ourselves, far removed from our own childhood, we quickly grow bored and restless as family life sets in.

We break our children, competing with them instead of teaching them and babying them when they need discipline, because we know that we are not passing the world on to them anytime soon.

We break our marriages as soon as we become tired of sleeping with the same person and listening to the same stories. We realize that if we take our vows seriously, we have another 50-plus years with this person, so we divorce in order to serve our base desires and needs. “What about the children?” Who cares? They will recover or deal with having a broken family like their parents did.

“It is my life, I am the star, and I can do anything I want!”

Even in the realm of health care, many of modern life’s health issues can be traced to increased longevity: diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, arthritis, blindness, deafness, etc. Our biological systems break down, yet with modern medicine, we can fight through these setbacks and continue to thrive long after past the ages when our ancestors would have been dead and buried.

As such, life has become something to hold onto at all costs. Fighting death has become mankind’s great struggle. Ninety percent of health care expense is spent in the last six months of a person’s life. We cavalierly indebt our children in our vain, glorious and futile struggle to hold onto our broken bodies and minds.

And our longevity is only bound to increase. Medical science already predicts that the first person to live 150 years has been born. Breakthroughs in genetics, medicine and biotechnology means humanity will have even more time to show its inherently egotistical behavior.

Behold our future: fewer children born, more pressure to keep the status quo and less willingness to make institutional changes that can insure the health of our republic and progeny. We the People will fall.

Believe me, unless we quickly come to terms with what our innate selfishness coupled with an ever-increasing lifespan means to society and family, the future I described will be our fate

Armstrong Williams is on Sirius/XM Power 110, 6-7 p.m. and 4-5 a.m., Monday through Friday and S.C WGCV 4-5 p.m.

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