SHOULD OLD AGE BE ABOLISHED?
George F. Hacker
Nov. 12, 1976
Should old age be abolished? Certainly there are times when it seems that
life would be smoother, for us, if this could be done on demand. When we are involved
with the problems of dealing with an old person who is becoming increasingly willfue,
thankless and self-centered it is easy to wish that the geriatic stage of life could
be eliminated. When we come face to face in our own lives with the realization that
for us the term "OLD AGE" no longer means the future but describes the present, our
desire for a change in this particular part of the process of life becomes acute.
Fortunately our wishes in this matter have little to do with the outcome for there
are more complications involved than are apparent at first glance.
In this brief paper I propose to consider some aspects of old age and
raise some pertinent question regarding its place in life. Final answers you will
not find but I hope that something in this essay will stimulate your search for
an acceptable answer to some of the inescapable problems of this stage of life.
Old age is not a precise term well defined in either law or custom. .Even
the poets who are supposed to have special insights into the deeper currents of
life do not provide much help.
Shakespeare takes a dim view of the last stage of life. In "As You Like
it" he calls all the world a stage upon which man performs his acts in seven ages
concluding with "The Last Scene of all
that ends this strange eventful history
is second childishness, and mere oblivion,
sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything."
If this is the reality we face in old age no wonder we yearn for its
abolition and frequently shut the doors of our own awareness to its presence and
even sometimes deny its existence.
Oliver Wendell Holmes in his "THE LAST LEAF" written when he was Twenty-two
years old and presumably knew more about life than he ever did later, expresses an
attitude of gentle amusement in contemplating the last age.
" I saw him once before, and again
The pavement stones resound,
As he totters over the ground
With his cane.
They say that in his prime,
Ere the pruning knife of time
Cut him down,
Not a better man was found
By the crier on his round
v Thru the town.
But now he walks the streets,
And he looks at all he meets
Sad and wan,
And he shakes his feeble head,
That it seems as if he said,
'They are gond.1
Members of the Quest Club authorize the Allen County Public Library to digitize and publish past, present and future Quest Club papers for dissemination on the Allen County Public Library website (Board of Directors of Quest Club, Inc., Resolution of May 2010).