Saturday, August 12, 2017

Aging kids

My kid says she is getting older and doesn't feel much like a kid anymore.  She has gray hair, her husband has retired and she has grandchildren.  Maybe she is right.

When your children and your grandchildren are competent, well-functioning adults, one of the primary drives, to reproduce, can be checked off as completed.  Of course, I can worry about my grandchildren's children, their future prospects, the sort of world they will live in.  But every time I start doing that, I see that the great-grandchildren will marry and have children.  I don't want to start fretting about still another generation.  

I have experience with older people like me feeling sure that everything is going downhill and there is everything ahead is dire, dangerous and damaging.  I have read "Sapiens" by Harari and I am reading his book "Homo Deus" (Man, the God).  I know the old fear that invariably people, especially men, can get the idea that they have everything bagged, conquered and under control.  I do realize there are many dangers and problems in the world.  But I also know that virtually all old people focus on what has deteriorated, what has "gone downhill", what has changed for the worst, and fear for the future.

Even the professional futurists tend to underestimate the flexibility, imaginativeness, and adaptability that humans are capable of.  You may have heard of the horseshit hypothesis, that the city of New York will drown in horse manure once its population gets high enough.  This idea seemed to a problem without a solution when transportation meant so many horses per one hundred humans.  The math was impressive and the city went way past the density and size where it seemed a problem but the trick was that horses were virtually eliminated.  

If you want a shot of optimism, take a look at Harari's books.  Or look at Steven Pinker's "The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined."  Our history has been unfolding toward better lives for quite a while now.  Take a look at the early 1800's in "What Hath God Wrought" by Daniel Walker Howe to see how miraculous the railroad and the telegraph were. Consider better education today and better recognition of the need for good education as well as a better grasp of what a good education is.  

I think the kids are doing well.  They have lots of promise.

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