By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Monday, July 12, 2010

So, This Is New?

Portrait of René Descartes, dubbed the "F...Image via Wikipedia
Read the title with the impatient air of a Yiddish-speaker. Yes, the generation of  "baby boomers" is, oh my, aging rapidly. If the World War II generation was the "greatest generation" (at least many of them), then what will be the moniker for the "baby boomers"? The "Me Generation" or the "Worst Generation"? I propose the "Obtuse/Reinvent the Wheel Generation." My grandmother used to tell us kids, when we did something inane, that we lacked the "natural light"--in Spanish, "la luz natural" (yes, middle class kids with two responsible, very present, married parents used to grow up in multi-generational households). It's an old-fashioned term for common sense. Descartes, the Jesuit-educated father of modern philosophy, uses the term in the original Latin "lumine naturali" (sic) [in French, "lumière naturelle"--everything sounds better in French].

I was reading the Sunday New York Times; and two financial books (money is, ironically, a very big, very bourgeois obsession of the supposedly "care-free" baby boomers of sixties and seventies vintage) are reviewed telling us to save money by living below our means and also that we are responsible for our money. For that, we need two books? Another article notes the anxiety of baby boomer parents that their kids do not date but rather "hook up." Well, if promiscuity is not good, then you had better rethink the profound value of the premarital chastity that the obtuse generation could never grasp and has largely failed to pass on to its kids or its younger siblings. Then, there is the article on aging, as if the obtuse generation is the first generation to age. Here is the advice given in one article: don't get so hung up on activity as the sign of successful aging, also take time just "to be." Well, the advice to take time just to "be" is good advice at any age. The sooner you start to value "being" over aimless busyness, grasping, and getting, the better off your youth, not to mention your senior years, will be. Your whole life from teen years to age 100 will be better off.

For the obtuse generation, I have my own advice: there is really no special recipe for old age. Start young and  apply common sense and then just keep applying it for as long as you live. Cultivate common sense, la luz natural. And, if your natural light is dim, then the wisdom of the Bible, of great philosophical thinkers, and of great novels and plays can be your lighter fluid--especially, in my experience, in that order.
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