The experts — they go by many names with or without credentials — are lately sounding counter-intuitive. Not that these empiricists believe very much in intuition, but they are making my barber mad. Very mad, because Ron is a 68-year-old traditionalist and proud of it.
The experts are telling us the anti-big government sentiment runs against other institutions as well. Marriage-and-children is no longer a given by the young generation. Neither is religion, as more people prefer to call themselves “unaffiliated.” Nor political parties, as more people prefer to consider themselves “independents.” Even the ancient adolescent tribal custom of dating has now given way to the much looser “hooking up.”
Attend any church or visit any senior home and you will hear echoes of my barber: “We’re tearing up all our roots!” And they would have a good argument. Ever since the first wandering hunters grouped themselves into families and clans and tribes, humanity has been a groupy thing. Attached to its institutional roots with a passion that amounts to a faith.
Grouping, however, is changing into soloing, as Eric Klinenberg details in his “Going Solo.” For verification, travel the popular enclaves of any big city [Wrigleyville in Chicago, Bourbon Street in New Orleans, East Village in New York] and behold entire populations of young, unattached vagabonds doing their thing, then going home to their trendy one-person households.
Hard to say if the experts or Ron are more correct. After all, snapshots of the current culture are just that — snapshots. And yet isn’t there another counter-intuitive phenomenon at work lately? The recent regard — dare I say respect — for the elderly. You know, that graying generation in our families who we hug at holidays then put aside the rest of the year.
It’s never been that way in older societies say like China, India, Africa and the Mediterranean. Where the elders command respect just by being, well, elders! But lately the kids — even the experts — give standing ovations to elders like Tony Bennett and Betty White. Could this be the start of something? All I know is the older I get, the better it sounds. I’m pleased to report that Ron and his razor agree.
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