Opinion: Wise old birds

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Among scores of both legitimate and suspect lines, we divide ourselves by race, gender, religion and age. Even more, we are segregated by others – marketing firms, corporations, institutions, politicians and governments – masterful in making us aware, if not obsessed with, our various forms and flavors. So, as we march into a new dawn of interest groups and identity politics, where is the guidebook that will help us know the difference between a sparrow and a swallow? 

Alas, unlike the agreed definitions among the world’s leading ornithologists, the notion of human variability is a bit more contested. Lines blur and various constituencies are locked in battle as to which can claim each of the contested sub-groups as their own. Labels fly. Aspersions are cast. Still, most of us struggle to rise above the chatter hoping to make sense of it all.    

Our children stay children much longer than in generations past. Still, they behave more like adults. Working, or not, fails to correspond with possessions. Maturity, or not, fails to correspond with procreation. Intelligence and diligence, or not, fail to correspond with expectation. Have we lost sight of what it means to be an adult? Or, is the onset simply delayed a bit? Yet,even if we can attempt an answer here, do we expect to cherry-pick the good and leave behind the bad? Are we still looking for a world filled with rights but absent the corresponding obligation? 

The young (or youngish) are not to blame alone. Verified chronological adults abandon their families to “find themselves.”And maturity only loosely corresponds to age.  Still, can we be at once responsible enough to elect a president but not to drink a beer? Without the onset of responsibility, can adulthood ever be achieved? Perhaps, we’ll know when we’re older. 


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