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Old age is something we are all anxious to attain. However, once attained we consider it a defeat, a form of capital punishment. In enabling us to reach old age, medical science may think is has given us a blessing; however, we continue to act as if it were a disease.
More money and time are spent on the art of concealing the signs of old age than the art of dealing with heart disease or cancer. You find more patients in beauty parlors than hospitals. We would rather be bald than gray. A white hair is an abomination. Being old is a defeat, something to be ashamed of.
While we do not officially define old age as a second childhood, some of the programs we devised are highly effective in helping the aged to become children. …Now preoccupation with games and hobbies, the overemphasis on recreation, while certainly conducive to eliminating boredom temporarily, hardly contribute to inner strength. The effect is, rather, a pickled existence.
Is this the goal of existence: to study, grow, toil, mature, and to reach the age of retirement in order to live like a child?
Old age is not a defeat but a victory, not a punishment but a privilege.
–Joshua Abraham Heschel