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Ian J. Wharton
HIST 4003- Aging in World History
March 10th 2016
The Roadmap of Aging
In The Journey of Life by Thomas Cole and "Old Age and the Search for Security, An American Social History" by Carole Haber and Brian Gratton the theme is the roadmap of aging. Both books deal with the concept of aging with some solid opinions on it. On one end Cole speaks on the attitude of aging being deficient while Gratton and Haber seek to challenge the viewpoint of aging. The attitudes during the Calvinist era, the health movement, the evangelical Victoria era and also the Scientific era are all highlighted throughout Cole\'s reading. While Haber and Gratton speak on wealth, the structures of families, retirement and welfare throughout the preindustrial era, industrial era and the era of social security.
To begin, we first need to understand the definition of "old". Webster\'s dictionary defines old having lived for a long time or no longer young. Now from that definition being old is just something that\'s apart of life. Cole goes in depth on what "growing old" is all about and how both scientific and medical aspects have brought about change but a bit of "cultural disenfranchisement-a loss of meaning and vital social roles." "Symbolic and cultural improvishment" the eventual drop into poverty is the way that Cole feels old age should be viewed. Not only that but the world we live in sometimes is only focused on how we grow old in the first place. There is a central point in Cole\'s logic though: That we change our views on aging by melding present and even past ideas. By doing that we then can give the definition of old age more substance rather than it being a sickness.
Always in life mindsets can change, which happened quite frequently in aging. The Calvinist era foundation was on the idea of Calvinism which is "the Protestant theological system of John Calvin which develops Luther\'s doctrine of justification by faith alone and emphasizes the grace of God and the doctrine of predestination." People who believed in Calvinism saw God as not only unpredictable but omnipotent. So the belief was that we can\'t comprehend what aging is and it should be viewed as a mystery because "God has predetermined the timing and manner of each individual\'s death". The elderly was highly respected by the Calvinists and aging was viewed as a sacred pilgrimage to God. Both old age and long life were viewed as "God\'s gifts" rather than rewards for good behavior.
Secondly, the viewpoint during the Victorian era went against the Calvinist views of aging being unpredictable. "Individual property and longevity as a reward for proper behavior" was what they believed life was to people. In order to be fully equipped for adulthood it was a must to avoid things like gluttony, luxury and idleness to stay on the straight positive path of success. An aging body and eventual death were viewed as punishment for sin and basically was the blueprint of death. However, the belief that "religion is something to do, not something to wait on" made the big difference between the Victorian era and Calvinism. This time period shows that people wanted to make sure they were apart of their religion rather than waiting for the inevitable.
The health movement ironically saw everyone as healthy and if they were not healthy the reason behind it was because they violated natural laws. To add, living for a long time was what anyone should strive for and crave to have for themselves. Ever present today these same ideas of taking care of yourself and having a positive attitude is what the health movement focused on because if it was not done anyone can "quickly fall into sickness or bankruptcy". The scientific era caused hostility and a huge shift of opinions pertaining to aging. "Religious belief was reduced to a minor technique of medical therapeutics". The reason behind it was that of the ideas of reformers that believed that life can be controlled and health can be maintained. This was extremely different from that of other opinions that God had control over life and just caused
a lot of division to take place.
Now the shift goes to "Old Age and the Search
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Ageing, Gerontology, Old age, Elderly care, Calvinism, Longevity
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