Are Youth and Beauty bad for us?

American culture has become focused on two fleeting and naive aspects of our existence:  Youth, and Beauty.  These two qualities have come to outweigh intelligence, wisdom, and experience in determining how important someone is.  So much emphasis has been placed on youth that the elderly are being shut out of our lives, abandoned by their families to institutions or lonely, empty houses.

The reward for years of sacrifice and self-denial was to spend the days playing with children, sharing culture and heritage with the next generation, and guiding the decisions which affected the group.  Elders were respected and influential, an important part of the community.  Their experience and wisdom was considered valuable to the well-being of the group, and their time taking care of the children was essential in allowing the people of child-bearing age to work supporting the group.

This emphasis on youth and beauty is a result of the materialism of our times, the focus on things instead of people, and on the individual instead of the group.  The continuity of the family has been lost, the circle of life has been broken, and our communities are fragmenting as a result.  Materialism drives the advertising which shapes our culture, through sponsorship of programs and campaigns in media.  Because advertisers want to target younger members of society, they have become the focus of entertainment.  Teenagers have a disproportionate amount of influence in advertising and media, because they are big spenders.

Billions of dollars are spent every year chasing Youth and Beauty, in make-up sales, tanning booths, and hair coloring.  But neither can be held on to for very long, and the more energy spent trying, the more vain is the pursuit.  Especially considering how such thinking denies the importance of the Future, crippling our investments, disrupting our planning, and delaying adaptation.  Youth and Beauty cultivate an obsession with the Past, on what was, instead of what will be.

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