Sunday, 15 September 2019

Predictions and disagreements. (About Artificial Intelligence.)


Predictions and disagreements. (About Artificial Intelligence.)

A California couple approached me about The Simple Raven’s Posts. Surprisingly, there are readers of The Pass Herald in faraway California. They wanted to know if I am familiar with the famous Israeli professor and author Yuval Harari. He has been on the number one bestsellers list for a while and is giving lectures all over the world. I had heard his name but didn’t know a thing about him so I decided to investigate. The California readers were right. Both Yuval and I believe that “we are the stories we tell ourselves.” The more I listened I realized that we have a lot in common.

I listen to a few talks Yuval held with famous people on the best world stages and he intrigues my imagination. This article is too short for me to outline all his ideas. During the last Google Talk I listened to, he deals with major threats to humanity and the world. Number one and two I mentioned in my articles often. Nuclear war is guaranteed to end life as we know it and Climate Change will destroy human civilization if unchecked. The next danger is much more subtle since it is yet not fully understood, but first lets deal with some smaller dangers.

Most of our historical effort was invested in getting people together to work on common projects. People existed in caves and forests competing for food. Family groups joined and eventually formed communities. From that point communities began to form tribes, agriculture was born, land ownership developed and human civilization arrived. In recent history we witness small nations forming into the countries we know today and Nationalism becomes a common term.

I grew up knowing that Nationalism is most important. I was born in a country that just became a new nation and the flag, national anthem, language, and other symbols were most important. I moved to a country (Canada) in which two dominating nations were trying to express themselves independently but uniting for mutual gain. According to Yuval, that era will soon come to an end. Together we are facing mortal dangers which can’t be solved by any one nation alone and some form of Globalism will happen. We have global ecology, global economy, and we are trying to manage it with national politics.

Yuval’s third potential danger for human existence is less known but exists nevertheless. It is related to Artificial Intelligence and its relationship with biological human brains. The first aspect to consider is the amalgamation of humans with machines. I have a pacemaker which has been keeping me alive beyond the natural cycle. This is just the beginning. We are developing ways to replace human organs. Soon we will be able to expand human life, but not for everyone.

With the improvements in artificial intelligence, we are facing a huge problem which is global, not national. Computers and robots are able to do most of what low-skill workers used to do. Driving, manufacturing, agriculture and lately service industries are mechanized. A I and communication devices will replace even Family Physicians. When politicians talk about immigrants, they ignore the fact that billions of people in other countries are becoming useless. 3D printing could replace all the cheap labor products we import from poorer countries.

We are already in the era of developing a “useless class” and soon that class will lose its political clout because they are useless. Yuval is agonizing over how to solve the problem while I see us already working on it. I see government after government coming to power implementing steps when people are not seeing. Reduction of funds to public education make future generations unable to understand what is happening to them.

The class that can afford it is pushing for savings on public health or fighting against implementing it where it does not yet exist. The war cry is, we can’t afford public health, but the outcome is shorter lives for the useless class. This endangers World peace.

Poor countries now possess huge firepower and can see what is happening. Poor people in affluent countries realize that corruption and modernization will eliminate their means of existence. In my opinion, we must accelerate our efforts to avoid catastrophe by implementing Christian “Love” and degrading evil “Selfishness,” immediately. The solution is not in solving the abortion issues but in figuring out a story that will ensure a good future for all of mankind. There is one commandment above all and it is: “Love one another as I have loved you.” It involves voluntary self-sacrifice.

Yuval Harari predicts the possibility of humans becoming more machines and less organic human beings.  Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk agree.  He said that we will become Gods. His is one option. The option I choose is to fight peacefully but relentlessly for our humanity. I also believe that we will become Gods, if we are not already, but by studying our spirituality. We ignored it at our own peril for too long.  

In my story of the future of humankind, we will use the creative power that God placed within us and invest in propagating Love and shaming Selfishness. The country people have been like that for generations and they are not gone yet. Their descendants now live in cities but remember their humble past and believe in decency. They are the patient people who always trusted God and nature and it never failed them for long.

Soon we will face a choice that we have never faced before. Are a few humans going to live forever in mechanized bodies or will we use technology to enable all of us to go forth as one body? I believe that we will not destroy those made useless, but lovingly caringly holding children and bringing the injured and elderly will step over the threshold and be in the promised kingdom.

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Sunday, 8 September 2019

The Hobo Professor.

The Hobo Professor.

I was hiking one day beside the river when I met a person who I assumed to be a Hobo. That is what we used to call homeless individuals who didn’t fit into our social system. Most of these people are uneducated and considered to be “low life” but a few are remarkably intelligent showing signs of high learning and great analytical skills. An invisible sickness takes them and they no longer play our game. This person was sitting on a rock playing a guitar sounding better than a lot of the celebrated artists. I started a conversation, and he was willing to spend time with me and talk. There was no need to pretend to be what we are not since he already reached the bottom. The Hobo knew things that most people don’t and he shamelessly called himself a “Schizo”. I felt safer around him than I did in parties with the elites of our society. I couldn’t help wondering who or what he was in a past life but he wasn’t telling.

He was obviously proud of being born and raised Albertan and mentioned training in the armed forces. When he talked about flying under the radar, I wondered if he was a pilot or was talking about the way he now lived or perhaps both. I was expecting him to ask me for money but instead; he opened a bag containing a pita bread, a nice big tomato, and some green onions. While making his lunch he asked me politely if I had eaten yet. Thinking about how he may have obtained the food I declined.

He peeled a sticker from the tomato reading aloud, California. My mother used to grow the nicest tomatoes in town, he said. You ate one and the smell and taste overwhelmed you. Now we buy our produce from another country and it looks beautiful but has no smell or taste.

We Albertans always gave the country all it’s needed, he continued while eating. When they needed to tie the land together, we pioneered, built a railway and made peace with the native people. When they needed coal, we worked underground and shoveled it out for them. They needed horses, and we raised them. As wars broke out, we volunteered and fought. They needed grain, and we cleared land and grew grain. They wanted beef and our ranchers provided it. The energy boom started, and we produced oil and gas, more than anyone. Now we must weather another change and I assume we are on our own, again.

My new hobo “friend for the day” wipes his grimy face, and a thought crossed my mind, did I just meet a prophet from the bible? He looks like one. They always use us, he said, and throw us to the wolves. We no longer have farms and eat ripe tomatoes, we pay someone else for imitation fruits. They sell our oil to themselves for nothing, telling us to be happy to have jobs in producing and transporting our products into their pockets.

Hobo strums on his perfectly tuned beaten up old guitar an old tune I remember, “The house of the rising sun” (The Animals 1964) and add, we were the gamblers and they the Casino. The Casino always wins. Our leaders contributed to an orgy which made us into a “throw-away society.” We have a competition in who are the best consumers and who provides goods to be discarded. All was well until our waste began to drown us, mostly the waste polluting the air but more. Now the world can see what is happening and soon oil will go the way horses went. Already prices are lower than production costs and we are trying to sell more for less. It’s futile, he said.

We still have our crops and meat production but we are losing the business. Farms no longer provide us with a living and the cost of production is rising steadily. We must use very expensive chemicals on the land and because of Global Warming insurance is high. Now our meat production is also seriously threatened.

Naming a couple of companies one in Israel and the other in the Netherlands he described a new method of producing real meat from cells taken from animals. It is called Cultured meat and tests reveal that it is indistinguishable from meat from butchered animals. Apparently, the idea of producing meat without killing animals is very popular and it will do two things. It will cut down pollution and devastate the ranching industry and related businesses. It could be the end of life as we know it.

The Hobo was one of the most interesting and well-spoken man I ever met. Change his appearance and there would be a line of people vying for his attention.

Albertans he continued, always saved the day and never received recognition and probably will do it again. We have a business-minded government in Edmonton, he said, and they are probably working right now planning Cultured Meat industries to take the place of ranching. We could provide the materials for a new industry if we stay ahead of the game. You can see that they are working on replacing energy production from coal and oil with new modern methods.

We are not the kind of people who wait for disasters to happen without being prepared. His voice trails off and I listen to the river rushing and contemplate what just happened. The rugged-looking person whom I expected to ask me for money turned out to be a well informed learned individual. I would expect a conversation such as this to happen in the hallway of the University, not in the wilderness.

A female voice came from behind me saying “professor, we are going now.” He gathered his belongings into his old sports bag, took his guitar and wished me a good day. It's been nice talking to you he said as he was moving with athletic grace uncommon for his age.


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Monday, 2 September 2019

Is Credit Limit “Heaven”?

Is Credit Limit “Heaven”?


I don’t watch much TV but the news interests me. Lately, there is a marketing campaign on the news, advertising an App for checking credit rating or score. In the commercial people in ordinary life discover that their credit limit is higher than they knew. Next, you see them spending, on vacations, new vehicles or apartment rental like billionaires. There is no mention of the payback time when they will work and suffer. It makes me sick to see people fooled this way. The ad doesn’t tell us how to get a better life, only to borrow and have a temporary sample of a good life.

I have seen some individuals, even governments, borrow to start businesses or even kick start a sluggish economy. I am in favor of borrowing if it will pay back later. Yet the motto of the late seventies, “Fly Now, Pay Later” which Chargex (Visa) used to advertise, offends my sensibility.

Most people, who are probably addicted to something, will agree that addictions are bad. There are substance addictions like alcohol, drug abuse, smoking and process addictions like sexual, shopping, eating, spending, gambling and I could probably write a whole page just listing the names. In my opinion, our overall worst addiction is to have instant gratification regardless of the consequence. It includes all the others. There is a good reason for the line in the Lord’s prayer that says “Lead us not into temptation.”

The best gifts that humans received from the Creator are birth and death. I woke up one time without remembering falling to sleep and cried. I was born and began my training on how to be human. As I learned, my body grew and so did my relationships and material possessions. I seem to have always known that it is all temporary which made it precious. If there was no death, I wouldn’t have enjoyed every stage in my life. In the end, I will go to sleep again without knowing where I will wake up. I already did have a near-death experience and it was not bad at all.

If you believe that we have only one life, as many people now do, you should plan to make it pleasant. It will not happen if you mortgage the future for an instant of pretending that you are rich. You must work hard and smart towards making enduring changes and resist the urge to pretend that you are rich and pay for it later.

When we are addicted we want something above all else. Often it’s clear to our minds that it is temporary and the mind will want more. The more we fight it the stronger is the pull towards it and we face the fear of losing whatever it is that gives us pleasure or relief. We need to be liked, or loved. In the case of addiction to consuming, food, goods or even services, we are fighting the knowledge that there will be an end. The addiction will demand more, and more is simply not available. More will kill the body that wants it. The next step is to deny what we know is true and reaffirm it by trying to convince others.

Our communities and families these days lack the closeness and intimate relationships which existed up to my generation. We try to mimic it by using new technology but it doesn’t. Starving for something, which is hard to identify, we feed our hunger with addiction to pleasure on credit as if there was no tomorrow. People will not survive if everyone cares only about the short-lived gains borrowing against the future without care.

Our aim should not be to fake being special for a little time but to make all of us enjoy life in a permanent and lasting way. We can do it using our creative power but we must be responsible. We are responsible to ourselves and to all future generations.

When a human spends all future earnings for something that will not last, he or she will be tempted to get more by taking what should belong to others. When someone obtains more than their own share, they will feel obliged to protect it by any means they can. Those who pay the price will keep working towards equality and eventually win.

There is no limit to how much we can spend or to how many things we could get if we had the means. Now when I am old and I have most of what I need, I feel like there is no need to obtain more. Perhaps I can replace some things but mostly I am happy with what I have. There is no way to have all the things that everyone else has. What about the younger people who don’t have what I do? Back I go in my mind to the times when I didn’t have a lot. The time when I arrived in a new country with the contents of one suitcase. Step by step I began accumulating things that I needed as much as my little pay for my work would provide.

Now I look at the young generation and see them much better off than I was and see them borrowing up to their credit limit to travel and have a good time. I know that they will have to go long periods of working without rewards to pay for what they borrowed and I am not feeling good about it. Some will find ways to increase their income but most will not. Real income didn’t increase in thirty years or more but prices did. It was paid by credit and credit is limited to what one can pay.

I see people waiting for retirement. Fewer people now have pensions and with strong objections to increasing taxes, pensions may not go up. What will happen?


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Monday, 26 August 2019

Alberta 2019.

Alberta 2019.

Alberta is a big place. Last week, I did the yearly trip to visit my wife’s relatives up north in a little town called Falher. It reminded me of our towns in the Crowsnest Pass but without mountains. We drove hour after hour through the richest province of Canada moving through the populated cities to the rural areas of the north. First, we saw fields with crops which would make most countries jealous. The huge fields are dotted with oil pumps. Later we entered a forested area full of standing trees and some towns where sawmills are the main feature, again seeing oil and gas activities. We began to see cleared farmland and more oil pumps About seven hours from Calgary. It is an area populated by French people who like the rest of us are proud to be Canadians. The Town of Falher just celebrated its 100 birthday.

The town looks familiar since it has a “main street” which is the business center and the streets and homes on both sides look just like ours. The same phenomenon there as here: a lot of stores for rent, a drugstore or two, a hardware store, barber, little local newspaper, town office, and a school. Of course, there is a senior’s Lodge called “Villa”, senior’s apartments and a second-hand store. Apple is a major shopping place and instead of a chain name supermarket, they have a Co-op. The nearest other towns are shutting down. There are no stores, gas stations or any of the services which used to make up a town left. Most grain elevators are gone and the train tracks are being dismantled.

As you go through the rural Alberta areas one aspect is most obvious. The little old farms which made up the communities are mostly gone. There are a few farms still existing but not many.

I sat by the fire with an old farmer who explained the situation. The rural people, farmers, and ranchers used to be the backbone of America and Canada. They could not afford to be as “efficient” as Big Ag, huge corporations who buy and operate farms. The farmers who used to feed America are no longer doing it. The land is producing commodities for export and the food is often imported.

During the last thirty or forty years, Big Ag lowered commodity prices at harvest times and forced little farmers to sell, often buying the farmers' homes and renting back to them. Later the kids left and a way of life was gone. The towns no longer had people and with the reduced tax-base services disappeared. Rural hospitals were gone, government services reduced, businesses closed, police moved away, parishes disappeared, dealerships closed and rural America went into death throes. The only towns that do well are close to cities serving as bedroom communities and look like small cities.

Now the profit from farms is going to big corporations somewhere else, no longer circulating in the communities. The old farmers are waiting to die watching their towns in which they invested their lives disappearing and not being replaced by something better. The old farmer wipes a tear, blows his nose and goes silent. He sold his land to a corporation based in the city and his farmhouse was moved off the land that his folks pioneered. His kids are in the city and his town may lose its local newspaper that existed for eighty years. He fed the nation, and the nation did not protect him as he always expected they would.

I try to console him by saying that the same process is happening in the city. Our small businesses are all but gone, and all the services we used to have are disappearing, I say. We no longer even have cashiers in some Walmarts, I tell him. So-called independent businesses are now a franchise.

I look at the ancient face scarred by wrinkles of hardship, weather, and hard work. The flickering light from the fire reflects not only in his old style glasses but in his somewhat cloudy yet sharp eyes. He is not the kind of person who would utter lies even under stress. He is all of our farmers and ranchers who used to be the backbone of the country and now are seeing the end of their era. The farmers he said, lost to the corporations. We should have never let it happen. He leans closer to me and asks, what is the world coming to?

The fire crackles and embers rise into the night sky. The old farmer keeps explaining. In nature, he says, those who are weaker combine forces and defend themselves in groups. Our quest for being the rugged individual that wins all changed it. Competition was good for us but we let it go overboard. We took away people’s abilities to combat takeovers by a few and used laws to break natural group resistance. We had laws protecting little guys from monopolies but they are mostly gone. Few are doing well, some are working for them and are all right, but many are being set back. We live longer more comfortable lives he said, but it’s a lonely life devoid of emotions. Families are broken and communities are gone.

He points a finger at me and continues: we should also think about the future. When they no longer need workers, soldiers, and farmers, what will they do with us? Will they allow us to have medicine, social programs, and care as we age?

I drive back from the north to the south noticing the deteriorating farms and shrinking towns. It is a rich province but who does it serve? What will happen when it will be empty of people? I realize that success is based on balance and balance is achieved by matching the people’s power with market forces. We need both. It's no longer capitalism versus labor, it’s a choice of how humanity will be shaped in the future.


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News from heaven.

News from heaven.

Sitting by my window in a remote little mountain town in Alberta I see peace and tranquility. Often, I used to picture what Heaven could be like and it was not better than what is in front of me. I could describe it for my readers but what’s the point. All the nice people that I meet here every day can look for themselves. People living in a mountain town with all the benefits of modern technology have a heavenly existence unless they refuse to see. Yes, there are pains, poverty, and heartbreaks, but there are reasons for it all. We do not see good if there is no evil to counter it. A little community in a forested valley crowned by mountains. Kind people smiling whenever they meet and helping each other. Wild animals grazing in town. Crows in the Crow’s Nest acting as if they own the place. It’s heaven.

 Some of my friends are talking about trips and cruises but I only feel regret for having to go away from here even for short durations. Anywhere which I can’t drive in a day and come back for the night is too far. I could be in another beautiful place but it wouldn’t be home. In the little-known gospel of Thomas, it states. “Jesus said, The kingdom is here but they do not see it.” I do.

I have another window I use regularly to view the world at large; it is called a computer. This most wonderful human invention allows me to see the whole world without going anywhere and it answers all my questions. I can ask how to make zucchini loaf or which country has most billionaires in the world, (India) and the answer is there. With very little effort, information pro and against any subject becomes available and I must make a choice who to believe.

When I open the window to the world, (The computer,) heaven disappears fast to be replaced by a hostile and aggressive world-threatening my perfect heaven story. Some of us are fortunate but most are not. I see a world on fire and fear enters my heart. This perfect existence that I and those around me enjoy, is very fragile and threats are looming from every direction.

I remember my mother telling me at a very young age how her peaceful world crumbled and became hell on Earth when the war began. One day she was a young girl living at home with a loving well-to-do family, and the next she was running away from bombs and hiding fugitives at risk of death. She spent her fourteenth birthday as a slave in a work camp.

I sympathize with the people who don’t watch the news because it’s too depressing. I did the same for a while. However, when I opened my eyes, I saw a much worst world and a dangerous world-threatening my little paradise. The people in pre-war Europe should have stayed more vigilant also and could have avoided the hell that became their reality. There were more than enough warning signs which they ignored.

Our so-called “news” is available from many sources. We used to have “real news” until some point around the eighties, but the rules were changed and they sold the news media to big news organizations. These often reflect the political and economic views of the owners becoming propaganda tools. Lucky for us there are still some outlets who refuse to be bought and exist upon true marketing not influenced by politics or often solely upon donations from large numbers of viewers who are willing to invest in an attempt to have real unbiased views.

I follow some independent news organizations who enable me to be aware of facts that remain unpublished by the mainstream media. It is all available. If one could follow all the news from near and far instead of the sports, entertainment, weather and other items which take the time of our favorite stations reports. There are brave news reporters who venture into dangerous places and risk their lives to get the news, but often the reports are not published. There are many who speak the inconvenient truth but we the people are denied access to them.

I live in paradise but easily can see that the world in which the Kingdom exists is in danger. Millions of people are moving around trying to find a place to live. Other groups are demonstrating in an attempt to gain real democracy and have human rights. Millions of youths are out demanding that governments will take steps to curtail activities that may destroy the earth. We can see heaven but so many others are in hell and we care.

I think that if we want to keep our heavenly existence, we must see our heaven with one eye while keeping the other on the rest of the world. Our first task is to ensure that our community remains an example of how wonderful it is when people make the best with what they have and care about each other. Next, we should care about those less fortunate than ourselves. The world, country, and our province are on fire. We should all think hard not only about immediate rewards but about all humankind now and in the future. We are a small group of people yet we have a voice not less than any other people. Let ours be the voice of justice, reason, and love for all.

I close my “eye to the world,” the computer, and look at the moon above the pine forests covering the mountains. Thank you, Lord I whisper with heartfelt gratitude. Another day is done and in the morning I should see the mist on the mountains and a fresh new sun. Perhaps the first person I will see on the street will smile and say “good morning.” Probably.


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Sunday, 11 August 2019

Life is Change.

Life is Change.

The only constant in our universe is change. There is nothing that we can point at that doesn’t change, either fast or slow. There is no way to prevent change. We wish for peace and security and the tranquility of staying one way, but it doesn’t exist. There is never even one instance in a life in which change stops. If the change is satisfactory we thank God, universe or the stars, or the other way around; “God, why me?” However, we do not truly want to exist without change. We spend this whole life on making efforts to grow, expand, and change what we can change. I was dirt at one time, became a human that grew eating what comes from the dirt, and I will be dirt again. I say “I” referring to my body. In Hebrew, we are called sons of dirt which later was translated into the sons of man which is the same thing.

Watch children or young adults. If they have straight hair, they curl it or curly hair they straighten it. If they are short, they try to look taller, and you get the picture. In America, they try to be rugged individuals and in Orient; they try to conform and not stand out. You may have a hard time finding a human who is just happy with the way he or she is and is not putting all of their efforts to effect change. The most coveted thing in life is the ability to make our own choices and we are willing to fight for the freedom to choose.

Progress to humans means changing the world to give humans more pleasure and less work. We do that with disregard for the natural systems which nourished us. Even within our own society we constantly try to climb upon each other and reach the top first. People of one race try to subjugate the other races and those possessing some technical or economic advantage use it to take away what others have and need. The easiest thing to convince people is the notion that they are somehow superior. Yet, if we kill all the insects on Earth it will not survive for five years, but if we remove humans, the earth will flourish. I look and I don’t know if to have compassion or pity.

In the beginning, humans had to be very smart to survive. No natural weapons like teeth or claws, no speed, wings or other natural protections aside from intellect and imagination. From the beginning to recent history humans honed intellect until learning to harness Earth’s resources to do their work. The promise has been fulfilled, and we filled the Earth. Now arrives another chapter unexpectedly. Two promises that collide with each other. A divided road with an obscured ending.

There is a promise for eternal life which humanity is not yet ready for. It is based on our ability to ignore the material and convert to the spiritual. The other long-awaited promise is for a Judgment Day. This one is in progress already and the tools are in place. Men in response to greed and hunger for power set in motion the course to self-destruction and termination of human life and culture. All the necessary tools are in our hands and we can choose. Relatively quick extermination by super-efficient killing weapons or slow destruction by altering God's plan without having an alternative plan. The process is unfolding as we speak, and greed prevents us from stopping it.

What fascinates us is how much power do we have over directing change. It is obvious that we human beings can take action and bring about changes that will make a difference. We can grow food instead of looking for what may be available as other primates do. We also believe that we can invoke higher powers to act on our behalf. For thousands of years, people have been praying and making sacrifices in an attempt to convince God or Gods to intervene in their lives. It is easy to find people who witnessed evidence that it works. I believe that prayers work. Others dismiss the notion citing evidence to the contrary.

To me, the only important aspect of this life is the survival of my species. Against all odds, we survived and developed a wonderful culture that can flourish on earth and even spread into the rest of the universe. I see beauty and wisdom in humans, a real kinship with that which we call God. Possibly we are here for a purpose beyond just surviving as other creatures do.

This generation believes in science, but only when it is convenient. We have used science to develop wonderful technologies and we have the means to make life heavenly or destroy it. The level of success depends on the stories which we believe, which seem to create our reality.

After a lengthy investigation, after examining the religions that I could, including science, I drew a conclusion for myself. If people are willing to follow the instructions of what we know as Christianity, excluding the history, dogmas and other attachments, it can produce a nearly perfect human world. Other religions can also work but I will concentrate on this one.

If we use our stories and focus on two main items, our descendants will gain the promised future that we all strive for. The two most important items on this menu for life are, take care of creation and love each other as yourself. To do that, we first have to overcome the temptation to use all which the earth can provide for selfish gain. It is not a question of politics or even economics; it is morality leading to survival.

That’s all.

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Saturday, 20 July 2019

 People who forgot to die.  

I see people all around me milling around trying to survive, get a better deal or discover the hidden meaning of life. I met a very old person at the town Post Office and stopped for a chat. Often the older people are lonely even when they have extended family and friends. When they are old and have more needs than things to give they are lonely and feel left out. An older person doesn’t move fast enough for the mainstream and is not taken seriously.

This older man was a respectable member of our community and left his mark but now felt left out and unable to cope with the modern world. The things he did in his youth were forgotten and he could not cope with the latest technological changes which could have made his life easier. I don’t feel that I am alive he said; I feel like I am just existing. He looked at me through a cloudy gray eye and a tear rolled down on his weathered cheek making its way to his big nose where he wiped it with his sleeve, sniffled and set his face tough.

I lived in a different society at one time. We valued the old people for their vast knowledge and often asked them what should be done. There were only a few old people around who survived to very old age and their stored knowledge was considered important. It has changed. Now we view them as surplus in this throwaway society and keep them safe and out of the way.

There are some other kinds of old people around who remain in the mainstream. My teenage grandson calls them the “people who forgot to die.” They are not genius and don’t produce miracles. They just keep themselves viable by doing something that gives them a sense of purpose and they never quit fighting.

I feel like I need a shot of wisdom so I stop at my local barbershop. The proprietor is as old as my dad and he works every day. At seven in the morning, there is already a lineup, and it remains so until after lunch. The price for an excellent haircut is the same as forty years ago and each customer receives personal attention. It is not a business for old people since there are lots of youth and children waiting. This old man doesn’t advertise or take appointments. He simply works hard, does a good job and charges a fair price.

From the Barbershop, I head to a seamstress to shorten a pair of pants. She has her business in a cozy little mobile home and likes to talk about her past. I can’t stay long since there are people behind me carrying material and notions. It is nearing Grad time and young folks need new dresses.

I drive over to the dry cleaners to drop some drapes for cleaning and I am met by a person nearing Ninety. He is smiling and knows his business well. His is one of the oldest businesses in town. Later I pass by his home and see him mowing his lawn. Another example of people who are too busy to give up on life.

Why is it that some folks are merely existing and wishing for a swift end, while others are still in the mainstream doing what they always did? Is it a special diet or possibly the pure mountain air and water? There are many possible explanations so I pick one that is closer to my heart. People live or die depending upon what they believe.

The people I am looking at are useful to their neighbors, community or town. I watch others who lost their drive for life. Some times they lost their mate and gave up on life. I can sympathize. Others fell onto the conveyor belt of life and are carried on without resistance.

As our medical skills improve people can live longer. Some folks live much longer than what was average a hundred years ago. Unfortunately, expectations rarely changed and folks begin to plan death far too early. Society is expecting some steps to happen and dreams often become the reality. I have seen people who had no reason to quit being useful say, I will leave things for the younger generation, make themselves surplus, get sick and die. Others also got sick, changed some habits, got cured and found ways to be useful. They have no time to take steps which bring them towards death.

We dream about retirement years before it happens and set our lives up to be carefree. We get our pension, quit all commitments, travel, play golf, or something else and enjoy. All our lives we waited for weekends and holidays and now it’s a way of life. We downsize, do condo living, move to assisted living, submit to long care and die in a hospital bed. It's all pre-scheduled and falls into place automatically. The body follows our expectations and beliefs, or does it?

I think that the subconscious mind controls most of what we believe to be “reality” since the creative power of God is in it. It has laws and limits and its full of surprises, but it has great power. I think a human doesn’t have to give up on life unless they want to. If they do, for whatever reason, nature will create the circumstances. The earthly creature in the image of God is not an insignificant victim unless it agrees to be so and we do.

This article is not offering medical advice or religious direction, only entertainment designed to provoke deeper thinking. Happiness, I believe, is in our hands at any age.

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