May 01, 2015
We often talk about the government funding single mothers and incentivizing divorce. Christians complain that gay marriage is sabotaging the family. These arguments are valid but few discuss the grandfamily. Sabotaging the family has consequences we”ve barely scratched the surface of. One generation ago, we kept our grandparents around. They thrived when they saw their spawn’s spawn (in Scotland, they say your “wain’s wain” which derives from “wee one”). I”m convinced there are evolutionary endorphins that are released when a grandparent sees the incredible impact he’s had on the population. It’s a healing drug. Those who don”t have this instinct are extinct.
The New York Times recently featured a piece about a Greek war veteran named Stamatis Moraitis who returned to his birthplace of Ikaria to die. Only, he didn”t die. He prospered. Being surrounded by family and friends lit up his brain and basically cured him. His 97 years felt like half that as he renovated his home and built a vineyard.
When feral children are discovered, they do a CAT scan and notice the brain isn”t just neglected. It’s depleted. The organ itself has decayed the same way a smoker’s lung loses its physical capacity. Conversely, one would assume, stimuli make a brain healthier. Combine that with the evolutionary instinct that makes grandparents feel proud of their wain’s wains and you”ve basically got a cure for Alzheimer’s.
The Times article mentions “Blue Zones” which are areas where centenarians are prevalent. People who live to be over 100 are not uncommon in small villages in Japan, Italy, Costa Rica and Greece. When sociologists Gianni Pes Michel Poulain mapped a Venn diagram of all these communities one factor jumped to the top of the intersection: family. Alzheimer’s is a reaction to a genetic instruction. The family separated from the patriarch is saying to his brain, “You don”t need this anymore, atrophy.” Now, grandparents are also culpable in this suicidal trend. Baby boomers are some of the least invested grandparents in history. My kids did all right but when I hear stories of my friend’s parents, I”m disgusted. Many don”t even use the term grandfather or grandmother because it makes them feel old. They opt for synonyms like “Glamma” and “Papa doc.” My friend’s mom came up with “Zubi” so he makes the kids call her “Grandzubi” in retaliation.
I”m not sure who’s to blame. I wasn”t with my grandmother in her last years. I couldn”t get her to come over and I sure as hell wasn”t going to take the family to Glasgow. I”d love my parents to spend their last years with us but we discussed it and they said they”d rather die. In our global obsession with self-indulgence we have shattered the family. Our quality of life is so good, the average lifespan in America is almost 80. Without family however, life isn”t worth living so our very biology is retiring early. If there’s no demand for a loving grandparent, the supply simply ceases to be. This isn”t an anomaly. This is the canary in the coal mine of Western Culture. We”ve given up.