Category Archives: Ethics

American Society’s Unnatural Attitude to Aging Naturally

Culture, Ethics, Family, Morality, Pop-Psychology, Psychiatry, Relatives, The Zeitgeist

In “No Country for Old Age,” The Hedgehog Review’s Joseph E. Davis writes, in essence, of the cruel biological reductionism and medicalization of old age, a natural stage of life that ought to be valued:

“When it comes to old age, illness, and death, little remains to us of common meaning or shared social rituals.”

Here are some of many profundities excerpted:

… In our society, to come directly to my point, old age is understood and framed in ways that lead inevitably to its devaluation. Its status is low and arguably is falling.
… old age [is seen as having] no value in itself. ‘Old’ signifies bodily decline, while “success” involves a ceaseless battle to defeat degeneration, and hope is always invested in the prospect of overcoming limits through self-reliance and technological interventions.

There is no space here for stillness or release, no sense of value or consolation in the evening of life. Even cultivating spirituality is framed instrumentally in terms of promoting ‘better physical and mental health in old age.’ An imperative to defeat aging and even death can only consign these realities to fear, shame, and avoidance.

…Representations of old age that add censure and shame to greater dependence and loss of one’s powers can only make matters worse.

… the sociologist Norbert Elias argues that, over time, these weakened bonds and other common features of the later years have been compounded by increased individualization and the isolation of the “ageing and dying from the community of the living.” In contemporary society, Elias argues, older people are “pushed more and more behind the scenes of social life,” a process that intensifies their devaluation, emotional seclusion, and loss of social significance. A physical and institutional sequestering and a pervasive cultural tendency to “conceal the irrevocable finitude of human existence” have made it harder for them and those around them to relate to, understand, and interact with one another. The aged and dying are less likely to receive the help and affection they need, and more prone to different forms of loneliness and painful feelings of irrelevance. “Never before,” Elias writes, “have people died as noiselessly and hygienically as today in [more developed] societies, and never in social conditions so much fostering solitude.”

… Health and longevity are the ends to which remedial action is directed and by which outcomes are evaluated. Even in discussions that include exhortations to build strong connections and communities, loneliness and isolation are treated as individual conditions, and references to community easily coexist with talk of genetic hardwiring, the role of the prefrontal cortex, and the ways in which neural mechanisms might generate feelings of loneliness.

… Typical advice is often some form of self-help: “take a class,” “get a dog,” “volunteer”; build your confidence with social skills training; seek out behavioral therapy. With therapy—highlighted for its positive “impact”—the aged lonely can be helped to see that their low self-worth, perceived isolation, or feelings of being unwanted are probably just cognitive misapprehensions that need to be “restructured.” Once this restructuring is accomplished, the aged can better match what they want in social life with what they have and get on with aging with more success. The status quo can now appear in a new, more uplifting light.

Current constructions of old age in individualistic terms of self-reliance, the fit body, productive accomplishments, or an imperative to deny or defeat aging technologically cannot but deepen our predicament and the need to render it invisible. This is what makes the cultural logic of these constructions irredeemable. They leave us in a cul-de-sac, hemmed in by a predatory commercial culture, a punishing ideology of health, fewer and weaker social ties, an ethic of active striving and mastery, and a mechanistic picture of ourselves. Moving beyond the devaluation of old age requires other orientations and other practices for which we must look elsewhere—to other societies, past or present, and to older traditions. …

… The social orientation of the evening of life need not be individualistic, but toward family and the localization and strengthening of social relations. Similarly, the view of the life cycle need not take its bearings from youth and middle age but from roles and identities appropriate to old age, with their own norms and rewards. These norms and rewards need not be defined in terms of active striving and productivity, but in terms of release, such as from social climbing, and a more contemplative attitude toward the world.

No Country for Old Age,” by Joseph E. Davis, The Hedgehog Review.

When Powerful Meat Producers Muscle Puny Plant-Based Meat Producers

Business, Environmentalism & Animal Rights, Ethics

“The beef industry in America has been urging legislatures to restrict the use of the word ‘meat’ to that which comes from an animal carcass,” reports the Economist.

When big business, nay massive, begins to muscle small business (with a tiny share of the food market), you ask critical questions—that is if you are a fair-minded thinker, as conservative and libertarian-minded people ought to be.

The latter must certainly reject restrictions on speech in advertising.

Which is why it is clear on whose side a fair-minded person will be in the case of the meat producers vs. the makers and marketers of plant-based meat.

Remember, the word “meat” is NOT A TRADEMARK, it’s a noun in the English language.

So longs as plant-based meat producers are clearly listing the ingredients on the packaging of their products and are not defrauding the consumer—I know on whose side I am. But then I’m fair-minded, not partisan.

FROM “Plant-based meat could create a radically different food chain”:

..At least nine American states—including Arkansas, Missouri and Mississippi—have now agreed. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is also asking the Food and Drug Administration, the federal regulator, to outlaw what it sees as misleading labelling of plant-based meat. In April the European Parliament’s agriculture committee recommended the introduction of a ban on plant-based meat producers using such terms as “burgers” and “sausages”, although the proposal has not yet been debated or voted upon by the full parliament. The European Court of Justice ruled that many plant-based alternatives could not be labelled “milk” in 2017, but this did not noticeably affect demand.
The fight over labels is a sign that meat producers are on the defensive, says Mr Friedrich of the GFI. “The meat industry attempting to define meat as something that comes from a slaughtered animal is every bit as absurd as trying to say that your phone is not a phone because it doesn’t plug into a wall any more,” he claims.
When plant-based meat becomes common, language will no doubt adapt. The word “meat” may one day simply evoke the sensory experience that comes from eating a particular blend of fats, amino acids, minerals and water.
Whether that is made by slaughtering animals or by some other means depends on the ingenuity of the new meat makers. …

* Image courtesy of The Economist.

DRUDGE Clearly Cares Deeply About Animals, All Animals

Conservatism, Culture, Environmentalism & Animal Rights, Ethics, Media, Morality

To his great credit, DRUDGE Report alerts almost daily to stories of abuse of wild and companion animals.

Drudge is also clearly trying to raise consciousness about the destruction of animal habitat at the hands of humans, that is if thematically consistent headlines on the site are any indication.

And DRUDGE does not appear to be one of those ethically challenged individuals who’ll tell you, “I’m a dog person; fuck the lions who’re being culled in canned hunts.”

My impression from following this news aggregator’s headlines for years is that DRUDGE cares deeply about animals and their fate.

Today, the item on Drudge raised awareness about “the complex relationship between humans and animals.”

Yesterday, Drudge linked to a story of a starving elephant made to carry tourists until she dropped dead.  Disgusting culture that would allow this.

I will keep you updated with a daily Drudge on animals.

The Pushy Kushners Go To Camp David

Celebrity, Donald Trump, Ethics, Family

The Kushners have ridden President Trump’s coattails into the White House.

Nobody voted for them; nobody worthwhile wants to see their fingerprints on policy, or their presence anywhere near the People’s House.

But the two, driven by the ambitious First Lady In-Waiting (Ivanka Trump is purported to have political “ambitions”), are intent on cementing their Camelot-like status as political movers-and-shakers.

This most ambitious and empty-headed of couples, both presidential advisers (yes, anything goes in America), is now insisting on celebrating a wedding anniversary at Camp David.

I have no attachment to the place. Nevertheless, I do not wish to see the two interlopers, Ivanka and Jared, frolic about as though they have anything more than a shameful place in presidential history.