“Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale/Her infinite
variety. . . .” So says Shakespeare
about Cleopatra inAnthony and Cleopatra. Now I don’t know about the Serpent of the
Nile, but as for me, age has certainly withered me. Or more specifically, my withers. Or even
more specifically, my knees. It started about 12 years ago. After having run-walked the annual Honolulu
Marathon for the second time in a row, I became aware of a gnawing pain in my
left knee. A typical male, I sucked it up and continued my practice of running.
The recently resolved U.S. debt-limit crisis has been described
by some as a form of extortion, with a doctrinaire faction of one party holding
the entire country hostage to their inflexible beliefs. The nation’s greater
good seems to have taken a back seat to the greater good of the few. Nowadays Republicans strike one as the party
of greed, while the Democrats come across as the party of need. Republicans have a point when they argue for
hardy self-reliance, entrepreneurship, and creativity rather than dependence on
July 3, 2076. An America chastened by the
crises of the 21st Century is about to celebrate its Tercentenary.
No longer the sole superpower, it has abandoned its role of global policeman to
a more mature U.N. and is now using its limited funds for the needs of its
people—more Denmark Anno 2011 than the United States of that era. Congress has
just enacted a National Maturity Test, better known as the Adult Licensing Act.
Unless a citizen passes this multi-phasic exam, he or she may not open a bank
account, purchase or drive a motor vehicle, matriculate at a college, apply for
a salaried job, buy property, run for office, or even marry. As you can
imagine, parents, the schools, churches, health clubs, summer camps, tutoring
organizations—everyone is teaching to this test. The ten things everyone is
required to know and be able to do to qualify as a “mature American”—include (1)
RELATING effectively to others. This is one “R” no one born in the 20th
Century ever was expected to know. Included are leadership and collaborating
skills. (2) SOLVING PROBLEMS efficiently. Research skills are part of this requirement.
(3) MANAGING TIME and FINANCES well. Living within one’s means, saving money
regularly, and knowing the difference between important and urgent are all de
rigueur. (4) Showing SELF-DISCIPLINE in one’s lifestyle, including eating well,
sleeping enough, and exercising every day. (5) Understanding and practicing
responsible HUMAN SEXUALITY. (6) BEING CHARITABLE. (7) Expressing FORGIVENESS
and GRATITUDE on a daily basis. (8) Showing CIVILITY in all one's interactions. (9)
Exhibiting a SENSE OF WONDER. And (10) USING POWER WISELY in everything one
does. During the first three-quarters of the 21st Century, humankind
suffered from a collective lack of these behaviors. The President, a
forty-year-old Muslim woman, will sign the bill into law tomorrow.