If you have not yet read, “Why I hope to die at 75,” by Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel in this month’s Atlantic, don’t bother. He may be a distinguished scientist, head the Department of Medical Ethics at U Penn and be a primary architect of Obamacare, but frankly he’s not too swift.
At first I thought he was humorously flipping the numbers of his own age, 57, around. Nope. He is dead serious. Not only does he list the various reasons why 75, “is a good place to stop” including physical, mental and creative decline. He also spends a good many pages telling us exactly what he WILL have accomplished by that age: “will have loved and been loved,” will have “contributed his best work” to his field and will have “seen his children grown.” Is he a fortune-teller, too? He may or may not live long enough to see any of those things happen!
The single worst part is his wanting to be remembered, “as vibrant and engaged, not feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.” Wow. Does narcissism come to mind? Look, getting wrinkled, frail and whatever else is part of the journey. If you can do it with an eye open for what magic lies beyond the bend, hooray! And if some young idiot thinks you’re ‘pathetic,’ shame on them.
It’s good for the young to be around the old. It’s even better they learn to take care of them, so they can truly understand their own aging one day. Emanuel says, “Our living too long places emotional weights on our progeny.” Yes, partially, but it also builds strength, character and teaches valuable lessons otherwise lost. He thinks the young need more time, “out of our shadows.” To do what? Indulge in their own self interests so they, too, can leave behind a ‘youthful’ legacy?
Garbage like this makes my blood boil. And to think the Atlantic actually prides itself on over 150 years of exhibiting a, “moderate world view.” Moderate? The bottom line is that despite his Harvard Ph.D., Emanuel is a sad victim of the “fixed mind set.” If you don’t know what that is, get a copy of “Mindset” by Carol Dweck right now and start reading.
Geez, the ancient Greeks were wiser than our present day intellectuals. They said: “Society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” To that, I say “AMEN.”
Good God!! Emanuel seems a victim to our youth oriented culture. Where is his WISDOM? I’ll be 74 in a few months, and have just begun in so many ways. THANK YOU, DEAR HELEN.
When I heard him say this I was furious. My Dad just died at 84 and every moment he was on this earth was a blessing. He made me laugh, cry and be happy. I am now watching my Mom decline and wouldn’t give up one minute with her. Great article!
Hi Helen –
My name is Brandi and I work with Ageless Grace. We all LOVE your website and your writing. We also love your humorous take on things. Thanks!
An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this on to a
friend who has been doing a little research on this.
And he actually ordered me dinner due to the fact that I found it for him…
lol. So let me reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!!
But yeah, thanks for spending time to discuss this issue here on your blog.
Thank you for sharing your opinion on Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel’s piece. What a shame someone thinks so negatively about aging. Aging is a natural part of life and can even be seen as a privilege.
Just found your blog. Love reading it, and your humor!