Growing Old Gracefully?

The young barkeep served our beers and said:

“You two look like you are growing old gracefully.”

Then he went away laughing.

Why was he laughing? Does he think we are losing it?

My buddy, Tom, and I almost toppled off our green padded stools!

Are we not in touch with the world and ourselves?

“Well Tom, there’s our next topic for discussion:

Are we growing old gracefully or are we losing it?”

“You know what they say, Dave, there is NO STOPPING the downward slide.

A lot of oldies in my retirement village read your blog so lets dissect this topic.”

We both stared at the painting behind the bar. It was of an old man and a old woman gazing into each others eyes. The caption was: “Forever Always”.

“Tom, are we past our “sell by”date?”

“Absolutely not.”

“The Bible tells us that three score and ten is a reasonable age. But you and I have almost got four score. We have been given an extra ten years, who knows how many more we will get.”

“Dave, the other day when I walked past a shop window and glanced at the reflected figure I was astonished. I sneaked another look. Who is that, I thought. Then after a couple of seconds I was forced to remake my own acquaintance; it seems like I no longer recognized myself at first sight. How scary is that?”

“Well Tom, all I can say is: the YOU behind your eyes believes you look like you did thirty years ago even though the reflected image tells a different story!”

“But Dave, aren’t we entitled to our vanity? I’m not embarrassed by my younger image in my head.”

“Whatever floats your boat, Tom. I think one of the most comforting things about growing old gracefully is the ability NOT to take things too seriously.”

We both sipped our beer and pondered our discussion.

“Well Dave, how do you want to be and think when you’re eighty?”

“Well, we are NOT losing it yet! I don’t want to be a cripple, I want some semblance of health. I want to enjoy a walk and a good meal plus some red wine. I want to forgive my parents for bringing me into this absurd world. I want to take each day as it comes and enjoy it. I don’t want to become sour and bitter. I recognize it’s the little things that matter, not fame, success or wealth. I want to be thankful that I’m a nobody, so I don’t have to live in a goldfish bowl.”

“Wow! That’s quite a list. I will add one more thing: who wants to live to be a hundred? I don’t. What’s the point of it? A shorter life and a merry one is far better than a life full of fear and perpetual medical surveillance.”

“Tom, I’ll leave you with this:

In life, we try to do our best, but it is never good enough!”

The Face In The Mirror

My buddy Tom, and I were sitting on the green padded stools and staring into the mirror behind the bar.

“Tom, do you like what you see?”

“What do you mean, Dave?”

“Do you like your face, the one in the mirror?”

“Well, I’m a little tired and stressful in my eyes. I see some anger in my expression. What do you see in your face, Dave?”

“I see a person who is worthy, a person who likes himself.”

“Are you saying I’m not worthy?”

“Keep your shirt on Tom. Looking into the mirror was just a little self-esteem test.”

Oh boy, the green padded stools were getting hot!

“What the test is supposed to convey is that self-esteem is central to good mental and physical health. In other words, life is like a mirror, frown at it and it frowns back, smile at it and it returns the greeting.”

“How would you define self-esteem, Dave?”

“To me it’s confidence in your own worth and abilities. It’s self-respect and feeling good about yourself.”

“I know I have some rough edges and faults but I guess I’m glad to be who I am.”

“Glad to hear that, Tom”

“Dave, I’m a little confused about what makes up self-esteem.”

“One part is identity. Who am I? What is my essential self?

Identity provides a sense of oneself and one’s individuality.

Self-acceptance is another part, believing in oneself and acknowledging weakness and trying to improve.

And then there’s self-confidence, belief in one’s abilities.”

“So Dave, what are the benefits of having a good opinion of yourself?”

The barkeep brought two more beers.

“It’s on the house, fellas.”

“Thank you, very much,” we said in unison.

“Back to the question, some of the positive consequences of having a good opinion of yourself are:

You would be less driven by fear.

You’d be happier.

You’d worry less.

You’d enjoy life more.

You’d be more comfortable with expressing your feelings.

And this one is very important,

You’d be able to manage the existential terror of death better, the knowledge of your mortality.”

“Hey Dave, here’s the big question: How do we build self-esteem?”

“What you need is to feel worthy right down to your core. You are unique and important. You must believe this deeply.”

“But Dave, what if you encounter a stressful event and it knocks you for six?”

“Well Tom, what you do is say to yourself when the event happened:

Getting through this will be a challenge but I’ll choose the course that seems best.

Then during the event say:

This is difficult but I’ll take it one step at a time. My quest is to transcend this but it is revealing my limitations.

Finally, after the event say:

I am hopeful.

I have the courage to see it through.

What are my options now?

This will pass.

I believe things will improve.”

“It all makes sense, Dave. So once you have strong self-esteem it can be your protection against life’s storms.”

“That’s right, Tom, the important thing to remember is:

Don’t let setbacks, traumas, criticisms and stressful events or any externals define you. Each person is too unique and complex to be so narrowly defined. What defines you is your “Inner Worthyness.”

“Drink up, Tom, here comes the conclusion:

A person told me the other day they had so many problems that if something terrible happened to them it would take at least two weeks before they could worry about it!”

Man’s biggest problem is NOT “outer space” but “inner space.”

With that we both jumped off the green padded stools, smiled at our faces in the mirror, and headed out into the wonderful world.


Differences, Conflicts and Inequalities

My buddy, Tom, and I were perched on the green padded stools wondering what topic they would inspire us to discuss today.

Then we both noticed the words above a picture of the American flag:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created EQUAL.”

“There you go, Dave, there’s our discussion for today,” said Tom, smiling.

“That’s it, Tom, we are all equal, BUT some of us are MORE EQUAL than others.”

Hey Dave, drink up, we are just getting started.”

Tom ordered another beer for both of us.

“Tom, give me a reason for inequality among people.”

“Well, there’s income and wealth. Money buys security and freedom to do things.

The rich/poor divide is a main factor in inequality.”

“Right Tom, also there’s occupation. Knowing what someone does for a living tells us a lot , your income , your education and what you’re interests are.”

“What makes an occupation prestigious?”

“The amount of income received and the education needed.”


“So, social inequality is a very important issue.”

“Absolutely Tom, because there are so many inequalities in life: income, social problems, education inequalities, rich and poor divide, poverty, etc. These inequalities have consequences for all.”


“Hey Dave, lets go over some of the views of social class.”

“Okay, lets take the Concensus View first. This view believes that social class inequalities are Necessary and Inevitable because some jobs are more important than others in maintaining society. Some jobs require specialized skills that everyone doesn’t have.”

“Tom spoke up and said: “Also these talented people must be motivated to train for these positions. Therefore there must be a system of unequal rewards.”

“Tom, one problem with this approach is that there are many poorly rewarded jobs which are also vital in maintaining society.

Ex- An owner of a business can only be successful through the work of his employees.”


“Then there’s the Marxist View: the inequalities lie in the private ownership of the Means of Production (land, property, factories and businesses).

Two social classes emerge, the ruling class who control the means of production, and the proletariat, who work for wages.”

“So Dave, Marx wanted to overthrow the capitalists and create an equal classless society called Communism.”

“Yes sir, Tom.”


Tom and I sipped our beer and stared at the words on the wall:

“All men are created EQUAL.”

“Lastly, we have Max Weber’s view and he was a German sociologist.

He agreed with Marx with the exception that people’s MARKET situation also created inequalities. This means difference in skills and abilities lead to people selling themselves better in the market place.

Also, there are status differences between people such as gender, religion, age, and ethnicity (black or white).”

“Now, we come to the explosive part of social inequality.”

The barkeep spoke up: “I was called a racist the other day,” he said, laughing.

We ordered one more round of beer.

Tom and I, also, have been called racists when we voice an opinion that someone doesn’t agree with on ethnicity.

The barkeep came back with our beers and said: “Listen fellas, everyone is a bit racist whether they admit it or not.”

“Dave, what do you make of what the barkeep said?”

“Well Tom, there are theories that back up the barkeep’s remark.

One theory is that racism is based on primitive survival mechanisms such as fear of anything that appears different. People fear that a group of different people might take away a level of security, importance or control from them.”

“In other words, the prejudiced person doesn’t want their status quo disrupted.”

“You could say that Tom, but I think there is more than that involved.”

“Such as what, Dave?’

“Sizing up people that are different than us has always been a human priority.

We tend to put people in categories, are they one of us or not. We favor our in group, we see our values as more desirable or superior to those of others.”

“Are you saying it’s ingrained in us?”

“Yes, I am. It may be unintentional, but when you study these theories, we are all a little bit racist. We tend to classify people into our in group or into an out group. Race, religion, and culture our the criteria we use to put people in one group of another.”

“Do you think societies will ever change?’

“I hope attitudes will change. Maybe we can work through our differences and debate them rationally.”

I took a long sip of my beer, almost draining the glass.

“We will have to neutralize the “Us versus Them” mentality. We will have to resist the bias that is built into us by evolution and modern society.”

“Dave, I’m still a little confused about being called a racist.”

“Well Tom, think about it and write your thoughts on a reply to the blog.”


“So Dave, what’s next? What is going to shape society in the future?”

“Well Tom, globalization is the big thing now, the world is getting smaller.

Advances in transportation and communication are bringing people and places around the world closer to us. We now live in a “Global Village”. One certainty is that places around the world will become more similar to each other, language, culture, customs, food, all these things are coming together. Like it or not, we’re all in this together!”

“I think there are some down sides to globalization, such as the labor drain on poorer countries. These places would lose the workers to richer countries that pay higher wages.”

“That’s right, Tom, also cultural barriers would break down. Immigrants would try to impose their culture on others, who would resist it and conflict would arise.”

“A good thing would be more free trade all over the world thus improving struggling economies.”

Tom continued: “So buddy, what’s the answer to it all? What’s it all about, Dave?”

“Well, all I can say is:

If you want a stable existence, comfortable housing, good education, and freedom in all your pursuits, increase your quality of life and minimize your risk of premature death, the secret is: BE RICH!”