Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Wars and the Elderly and Aging

I somehow missed the coverage of Donald Trump's news conference yesterday, but the thought of a president who can't bring himself to condemn neo-Nazis makes me too upset to write about this morning, so let me move my analysis to a slightly different plane.

Yesterday afternoon, I read this article in The New Yorker that analyzes the possibility/probability of a coming Civil War in our country.  The consensus was a 35% chance--but that was before the events of Charlottesville this past week-end.

One of the historians says, "It's like 1859, everyone is mad about something, and everyone has guns."  That's the quote that's stuck with me long after my original reading.

This morning I woke up thinking about how I think about civil wars in terms of young people and their lives disrupted and ruined.  But I rarely think about civil wars and their impact on the elderly--or on people who will soon be elderly.

This morning I had this thought:  of course I don't think about the elderly and aging because books about civil wars are written from the perspective of the young, the ones who go to war, the ones who resist, the ones who must travel long distances.  Those stories are full of what we traditionally think of in terms of narrative arc:  a clear conflict, a clear climax, and often a clear message.

Let me broaden my thoughts and ponder how many books I've read about any kind of war and how often I see the elderly and aging as the main characters.  No book immediately comes to mind.  Do we not see these stories because they don't exist?  Or have I just been drawn to stories of young people because until recently, I've been one of the young people?

In many ways, it's depressing enough to write about the issues of aging without a war as part of the story.  Perhaps that's why we don't see those stories.  We don't see many stories about the elderly and aging, period.  By stories, I mean fictional, not news articles (although I don't remember seeing many news articles about how war impacts the aging and elderly either).

I'll have to keep thinking about the issue of war and how it's depicted.  I'm hoping I won't have the opportunity to experience it all firsthand.  Sigh.

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