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Maybe it's the air we are breathing

1114 Views 45 Replies 18 Participants Last post by  vadsy
I try to imagine my Father at that age rolling around on the grass in a fight... nope, just not possible. What is going on? 65 and 71 years old respectively

Cyclist bloodied after road rage beating
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I've said it here before, many a time, and will say it again: as a culture we have supported and encouraged and enabled impatience more than we realize. Look at your technology. Look at the paper. Look at ads. Look at how many approach childrearing or education. And ask yourself how much it is predicated on doing or having or being something FASTER. AFAIC, many of the fatal interactions with law enforcement stem from impatience on the part of police. A great deal of vehicular fatalities and injuries arise out of impatience. People just don't want to wait, and when they are forced to, the sheer unfairness of it provokes rage because, after all, isn't everyone else able to do, have, or be that thing faster than you?

If we are being poisoned by anything, it isn't the air. It's the manner in which we surround ourselves, and predicate our economy, on "faster", "sooner". As someone who views patience as the virtue it has traditionally been, I'll be the first to admit that I'm as susceptible to the encouragements to impatience as anyone. Hard to fight when one is surrounded by it each and every day.

Evolutionary psychologists Leda Cosmides and John Tooby have proposed that detection of "cheating" is so fundamental to the social evolution of humans, and so essential to the social cohesion humans require for survival, that "cheater detectors" are likely hard-wired into the human brain, in the same way that other perceptual feature detectors are. Whether one ascribes to that possibility or not, I think the primacy of our response to "cheating" is undeniable. What is interesting to me is how that maps onto contemporary life.

Think about how easily people get riled by someone else doing, having, or being something before us, especially if we feel WE should have had that opportunity first, or were somehow more deserving. Think about how the ease with which the accusation of cheating has been exploited for political purposes. Think about how it gets used for union purposes. Think about the role it plays in many of the conflicts going on around the world.

There is little doubt in my mind that the urge toward impatience has been woven into that human tendency. We would be wise to be cautious about it.
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i mean, ffs, if we make it to this age and still haven't learned how to solve things in another way then what good are we?
Consider that the older you are, the more time you've had to practice being "you". Unlike children, who have their environment largely imposed on them, by where they live, who their parents are, their socio-economic status, race, sex, school district, etc., grownups get to choose a lot more of what they are embedded in. And they often (though not always) select what they wish to be embedded in, in a manner that complements their personality, intelligence, temperament, motives, etc. So not only does time give them more occasion to practice being themselves - in all its glory - but they are often in circumstances that support and entrench those characteristics.

So yeah, you would think that an older person would have figured out a better way to live and interact by that age, given all they've taken in and had the time to reflect on. Some folks never seem to acquire that bird's-eye view that might lead them to think "Y'know, maybe if I changed some things in my life, I might be happier and a better person". They're just too damn busy being themselves. And as gerontologists like to say "The older you are, the more you become like yourself".
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i'm not sure that i agree with you on this, because of a few reasons. firstly, very small children are somewhat protected from violence (from adults) by neotany. adult males are not. also, there is a reason being young is called "our formative years". it is when we are bent into the direction we will likely go. most therapists will agree that many of the emotional maladies that afflict us in our adult life come from traumatic experiences we have as children.
childhood, between children is far more violent than adulthood is between adults because the consequences are often viewed as less significant. also, adults practice violence differently, it's not always physical. as an adult, your perception of the world should expand, and thusly your ability to discern. it's why kids cant buy alcohol cigarettes and guns. but adults can. i realize that not all of us grow, but most of us do. to my way of thinking, what is responsible is something more complicated, for another thread. but that's just my opinion, worth what i charge for it. hahaha
You're approaching it more narrowly than I am, in terms of very specific relationships. I'm approaching it in terms of broader developmental factors that we tend not to think of but which nevertheless are known to have deep and lasting effects on who we turn out to be.

For instance, a child has no choice in whether they have one or two parents, whether their parents stick together, whether their parents are not much older or a lot older than them. They have no choice in whether their family is affluent or poor. They have no choice in whether they grow up in a wretched part of town or an idyllic rural community, whether they grow up in the midst of peace or conflict, whether they have to go to school or whether there is school to even go to. They have no choice in whether they are singletons or have siblings. And so on. As adults, they can choose their mate, whether to even have one, their friends, the kind of work they pursue. They can work towards and effectively choose their income level, the kind of community environment they pursue, whether to pursue education or turn their nose up at it. They can even move away from one city or country to another. And so on. Clearly there will be things that remain out of their direct control, but a whole lot more IS in their control, compared to when they were young. And in making the choices as adults - even when done without a whole lot of thought - they tend to make them in a way that feels most comfortable or familiar to them.

I'm not saying that is wrong or aberrant. Indeed, it is VERY normal. But when we expect people to smarten up with age, or change for the better, often we are expecting someone to undo something they have been working very very hard to reinforce for a long time. Personality theorists will tell you that, yes, sometimes people change in response to events (e.g., an assault, life-threatening disease, or other trauma), and that intensive interventions can change direction a bit. But a whole lot of folks show remarkable stability of personality across their lifespan. Again, not because it is somehow written in stone or in our genes, but more because people engage in those activities and circumstances that feel like a good fit to them. And they can do that because adults have the freedom of choice that kids don't have. Which is why gerontologists say people become more like themselves. Some might call it "freedom", where others might describe it as a shovel to dig a deeper hole.
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