Far too often it is the things you don’t think about that are actually the main forces that shape and reshape life and society. The role of declinist thinking (the notion that aging and decline are equivalent concepts) plays in shaping contemporary ageism is, I think, a case in point.
In particular, I believe that the persistence of ageism throughout American society is a direct consequence of thinking not too much but, rather, too little about the true nature of aging. People commonly regard thinking as being burdensome and are quick to establish habits that can reduce the amount of thinking they do in a day. There is nothing nefarious about this. Indeed most people have, at one time or another, found themselves behind the wheel of a car all buckled up and ready to go and without any memory of deciding to use the seatbelt. The tendency to rely on habits of thought is doubly apparent when the topic at hand is highly stigmatized. Declinism is embedded deeply within our culture precisely because it enables us to avoid thinking about this universal but poorly understood human experience. It is a dangerous sleight of hand that conceals vastly more than it reveals