Noisy Change

Friday, December 13, 2019

Ah ha, today is a Friday the 13th, a “bad luck” day. Supposedly, Fridays that fall on “calendar 13s” have been considered bad luck ever since biblical times. A popular explanation for this bad rap is that it was the date of The Last Supper. That event was attended by 13 individuals–Jesus’s 12 disciples and one other, Judas. Ever since, a popular fear has been of the Fridays that fall on any month’s 13th day, and in general, there’s caution toward the number 13 itself.

This Western superstition, known as “The Thirteenth Phobia”, is why many tall American buildings have no 13th floors. Those buildings’ elevators lack “13th floor” buttons, their platforms move directly between the floors 12 and 14.

I always have appreciated this living superstition as an example of our collective human takeaways from history. There are many such ancient legends, and over time I’ve wondered how long people might hold onto assumptions passed down through the ages.

I’m reading a book, “A Long Bright Future”, by Laura L. Carstensen (Founding Director of the Stanford Center on Longevity). She points out that up until the 19th century, the average human life was only 20 years. In the 19th Century technology was born and extended human life. In the beginning, it extended human life to about 23 years. The early 20th Century innovations extended human life more to about 35 years.

Technology created in the mid-20th Century began extending human life more. Labor-saving and medical technologies slowly began to flip the tradition age pyramid. Through human history, the largest populations were of young people. These days, the aging populations in affluent nations are on the verge of becoming the largest healthy sectors. This flip of demographics is changing our politics, economics, and social orders.

I’m fascinated to watch and learn, as our society undergoes new experiences and evolves toward large-scale changes. Our leaders are attempting to comprehend and meet changing needs, while trying to hold onto traditional values from our history and economics.

So, let’s enjoy the known old-ways, like those cautions associated to today’s date. The future will bring much that’s new, and that might alter many known traditions and assumptions.

Dear Friends: This is a brave new world, of noisy fighting in the world’s politics. Diana

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