Wise Elders: An Endangered Species

Rose-CoutréMy book Call of the Active Mind explores several studies that prove beyond any doubt that, since TV and other video entertainment, human minds have become less engaged and less functioning. The book also compiles overwhelming evidence that “life knowledge” and wisdom are disappearing from society.

The book makes these facts clear and undeniable. Towards the end of the book, a “Wise Elders” section outlines the risk of losing the pool of wisdom that remains in our older generations. Below I have excerpted from the “Wise Elders” section (edited for blog space).

Old people die too soon. The only way to save the remaining older people’s knowledge from extinction is to pass it down to younger people who benefit from it. Otherwise, nothing is preserved or built upon, the wealth of knowledge is depleted. It becomes exhausted by neglect, and disappears forever. Counting the disengaged hours diverted to TV for the whole population for the past sixty years, we have lost millions of hours of engagement with other people, including our most precious resource, older people.

Rose-CoutréLater, when the unwise people grow older (as many already have), they have much less to pass along to their descendents, the next generation of younger people. They cannot possibly develop as much as pre-video generations did, who had a lifetime of an extra 50,000 to 100,000 hours of development, and who also learned from their pre-pre-video elders. Each generation will spend their lives reinventing the wheel, knowing less and less. TV marks the moment when evolution stopped, and slowly started rolling back.

This unwise aging population will become old people in appearance, but not old people in substance, that is, they will not become wise people. That is a crime against both the original elders whose wisdom is lost, and against the future younger generations who will be left with unwise elders, with less to offer, even if the newer generation becomes more willing to learn. There is no one left to learn from. We see the gradual extinction of the wisdom of the ages, which is well on its way.

Later generations suffer in the desolate landscape that was once animated and vibrant with deep intelligence of life. In the best possible case, if people start to value life intelligence, starting the process over again, it will still take a hundred years to catch up to where we were sixty years ago.
Wisdom is not a subject that you learn from a textbook. Life intelligence rises from a combination of every area of development. Instead of wise, excessive TV viewers become emotionally immature, complaining, self-indulgent, rude, negligent, egotistical, insincere, unreliable, untrustworthy, incompetent helpless weaklings.

From this tragic fall, it is a hard road to regain these aptitudes: strength, character, psychological maturity, emotional stability, reliability, responsibility, courtesy, compassion, thoughtfulness, critical thinking, creative thinking, inventiveness, precision, concentration, logical reasoning, conflict-handling, composure under pressure, cheerfulness in hardship, discipline, adroitness in the three-dimensional world, common sense, coherence, intuitiveness, initiative, and integrity. These aptitudes become foundational for the development of life intelligence.

Each of these many areas have been shown to be diminished by the tens of thousands of hours wasted passively viewing TV.

Rose-CoutréThese life skills are lost because of lost hours of development. People have no one to learn from, no examples of these once-normal attributes and skills. These used to be the expected standards of typical aptitude—just the baseline of regular life intelligence that everyone developed. Beyond this baseline, people used their extra 25,000 to 50,000 hours by adulthood, to excel in special talents or just to learn a lot more about everything.

Historia Magistra Vitae Est
The death of the few remaining wise elders is a catastrophe. As they leave us, we lose our deepest springs of life, we lose golden insights by the thousands. We lay waste to the legacy of dead elders, prophets, poets, and the rest of our ancestors. In our shallow arrogance, we shun the treasure they offer us. Historia magistra vitae est—History is the teacher of life—and we have lost our history. The catastrophe will be felt by a few, yet undetected by most. If you never shed a tear before in your life, this is the right moment for it.

“We were the leopards, the lions, those who take our place will be jackals, hyenas.”
Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, Il Gattopardo

Read more from my book
Call of the Active Mind
©Copyright Robert Rose-Coutré 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2016

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