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Aging somewhat gracefully

10 or 13 years ago, I can remember distinctly feeling as if my core ideas about myself and the world would never change, age couldn’t do that, I thought, at 30 or 50 I’d still be an anarchic militant, excessive creative radical person. But age, really the passing of time, and our encounters during it, does change things. I don’t happen to think that rich people are ‘evil’ or that capitalism is the penultimate bane of all our ills. I did think that then. I have had to slow down, but it’s been more about taking the time to really see and to listen to other people. When I saw how many in the activist community responded or didn’t respond to homeless, mentally ill, criminal or drug addicted people, even to the cops, 2 years ago, I learned something very important about myself. I was moving too fast, my ‘ideas’ about things jumped ahead of my actually being able to relate and communicate with other people from where they were. It turns out that, yes, some people need to be fed when they’re hungry, but they also need to feel understood and loved, in other words, they need to be able to find the words for their own humanity, and if your patient with them, they can often do just that. Fine ideas about the world ultimately mean very little so long as you are not the only person in that world. I didn’t know that 10 years ago, I also thought it was compromising cop-out nonsense. So, you get older, you pay more attention, but more than anything you really begin to see people, we are all using language to relate which makes us radically equivalent to one another, and yeah, that means equal, but not the kind of equality you have in mind when you are younger.

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