We often speak of "quality of life" but seldom consider how to have a "quality-of-death" experience.
That said, we are in the throes of a deadly pandemic. Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has brought the subject of mortality to center stage; and, the spotlight is bright and hot.
Necropolitics (the use of social and political power to dictate how some people may live and how some must die) has reared its ugly head. There is a political fight that is poisoned by racism, sexism, ageism, classism, colonialism, ethnocentrism, jingoism, and nativism. But, so much for the "-isms." There are many more to consider; but, this is more than a mouthful.
When Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta was verbally assaulted on Twitter, we discovered that the "N" word still has a nasty edge to it, regardless of how whole generations of music icons have wholeheartedly applied that label to the expulsion of the Black experiences of our foremothers and forefathers. The elders tried to tell them it cannot be diluted. Not that way. While filming "Poetic Justice," Maya Angelou and Tupac Shakar were drawn together by an explosive moment on set, when Tupac had gotten into a dispute with another young man.
Dr. Angelou pulled him aside and asked him three questions. My favorite of the three is:
"When was the last time anyone told you how important you are?"
This question evokes much needed self-reflection.
Sexism keeps women salaried at only 79 cents for each dollar men earn, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2019. In 2020, it rose to 81 cents.
Ageism distances the younger generation from the older generation. Instead of learning from each other disdain is a barrier to the passing on of valuable information.
Classism is "a blatant display of prejudice against or in favor people belonging to a particular social class." The "haves" and "have-nots." Classism makes upward mobility difficult because of the lack of opportunity and resources. The distribution of wealth is determined by education; and, very often, race.
It is an unseen viper that shoots venom in the bloodstream of of domestic and international communities and then dissipates into the shadows to enjoy the slow death of its victims.
Colonialism is a problem that we are still wrestling with as a society. The plight of Native Americans illustrates that point in ways that are almost too painful to hold in one's consciousness.
They have suffered multiple losses:
Health and well-being
As a result, the wisdom of these beautiful Native peoples is buried in the rubble of a historical genocide.
The African American experience is assaulted by an avalanche of misinformation, misinterpretation; and, a severe and chronic case of chronic liabilities that eventually reveal themselves as an acute threat, especially in the realm of self-care.
Ethnocentrism is the American way, it seems. Each cultural and sub-cultural group injure themselves by claiming superiority over other human beings. Human being who are prone to the same mortal outcomes -- birth to death. It's unconscionable!
Jingoism is not a term we hear in 21st century vernacular. But, it is alive and well.
The definition of "jingoist" is someone who really dislikes people from outside their own borders. Jingoism is an extreme form of patriotism that often calls fro violence towards foreigners and foreign countries. It is the dangerous path from patriotism to the exclusionary ideology of nationalism.
Lastly, nativism promotes the policy of protecting the interests of native-born or established inhabitants against those of immigrants, by definition. Ti is the close companion of xenophobia, which is an irrational fear or hatred of recent immigrants.
Other human beings.
So, how does all of this factor into aging well?
A life, cluttered with behaviors and thought processes that do not support the needs of the whole world will always act as a cancer int he consciousness of the whole human race. The paradox is that it occurs on an individual level. The seed of healing is ready to be nurtured in the heart of each and every individual...it's a choice.
The Coronavirus pandemic has created two categories for clear, personal alignment: "Coachable" and "Uncoachable." Where are you in this paradigm?
Gratitude rings so true in the words, "I am alive." Every day brings its own joys, sorrows, and lessons.
We all have a responsibility to emerge from our respective cocoons and extend majestic wings, colored with timeless wisdom.
That is the reward of aging gracefully.