What do I know???

Gosh, apparently it’s less and less as time goes by. Well, I once knew, but then I didn’t. In most cases it is not a matter of dementia. At least not yet! It is just that I had a certitude about things, and I find that the years have been chipping away at that. Since I’m not certain, then I can’t possibly know.

Some of those things were not exactly popular ideas. In fact, I found a certain popularity by being unpopular. I think this is a common thing for youth, although I may have carried some things into middle age. And now?

Well, hell, I’m long past middle age, but I only just realized it.

I recently read an interview of Lawrence Ferlinghetti on the occasion of his 100th birthday. The reporter knew full well of the background of the beat literary figure, and wanted to pry some nugget of wisdom after his long years on earth.

Ferlinghetti simply stated, “There’s a serious error that gets passed around, something about the older you get, the wiser you are. Well, it’s just not true, when you grow older, you grow stupider.”

There is something that is true behind Ferlinghetti’s statement, beyond the obvious dementia of an aging brain.

I find that “knowing things” requires a lot of passion. Passion takes energy. I am now in the mode of conserving energy for the really important things. Knowing social expectations takes energy. It takes energy to profess the “right” things, it takes energy to oppose the “right” things.

I am no longer a “firebrand”, I’m not even a burning ember.

Take capital punishment. I can remember that I once “knew” it was barbaric, a holdover from the Middle Ages. Then I remember that I “knew” it was a combination of deterrent and revenge, and I was good with that. And now? I don’t know anything!

Has every “social burning issue” been regulated to the ashbin? No, of course not. I give my opinions when asked. It’s just that I’m never quite sure what they are until moments before I answer. It’s lucky that no one asks.

Here is another example, “What about torture?” Don’t be idiotic, torture does nothing in finding the truth. You will say anything, and be anything if the right pressure is applied. Of course I’m against torture. I can see that I’ve joined a popular held belief, but wait… while I don’t believe in torture, I believe in the “fear of torture.” I’m much more likely to tell the truth if the consequence of telling an untruth results in being impaled. Wow, I’ve gone medieval!

I am so glad that no one asks my opinion.

About johndiestler

Retired community college professor of graphic design, multimedia and photography, and chair of the fine arts and media department.
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