Thursday, February 5, 2015

Gray Nation Network

I fell in love with a TV series a few years ago called "Harry's Law", which featured one of my favorite actors, Kathy Bates. The show was cancelled because, although it had high ratings, the demographics weren't the 20 something crowd the network was looking for (or should I say the network's advertisers). Kathy was outraged, as were the show's fans.

Last year I fell in love with a show called "Longmire", a modern day western mystery set in Wyoming. A&E cancelled the show, even though it had very high viewership. Why? The majority of the viewers were Elders. Thanks to a tremendous outpouring of support for the show from the fans, Netflix bought the show and the fourth season is now in production. Thank you Netflix!!!!

In between episodes of my favorite cancelled shows, I get to watch countless commercials basically telling us GN citizens how ugly our wrinkles are, that we should be able to perform sexually like we were in our 20s, and that our beautiful namesake hair color should be forever banished! I even saw a magazine with an article on anti-aging tips for folks in there 20s!

Our society is increasing its cultural attack on the Gray Nation. In Lansing, every new development is targeted at the young crowd, "We must attract the young people and boost our economy," touts the Mayor. Multi-colored apartment buildings are displacing beautiful historic brick buildings. The Gray Nation is being pushed aside.

I imagine a time fifty years in the future, where a band of lost young people come upon a village of Elders deep in the woods, people they have only heard about in legends.

I have an idea. Why not create the Gray Nation Network (GNN)? Bring back Harry's Law, Longmire, and all the other shows that rate high with the over 50 demographics? All anti-aging ads would be banned. All little blue pill ads would be banned. Smucker's "Look Who's 100 Years Old Today" segments would run every hour on the hour. People would be competing over who has the most beautiful gray hair, or white hair, or salt-and-pepper hair!  Ads for growing old in the healthiest way possible would replace wrinkle cream chatter. A celebration of Elders. After all, we ARE the wisdom keepers. Although you wouldn't think so with so many of us buying into the cultural message that we are ugly and worthless.

If advertisers won't fund it, then how about a Gray Nation Public Television Network? I'd become a member in a second.

What do you say Ted Turner? And by the way, love the hair!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Wild at Heart

I remember watching Al Gore's documentary "Inconvenient Truth" and seeing a graph showing the exponential growth of the human population. It really hit home, because I could actually see this growth over my lifetime. It wasn't just a concept, it was reality. I will soon be 57 years old. I looked at that graph and saw the population numbers in the 1960's. My little hometown of Angola was much smaller then. There were still wild places one could go to be part of nature, away from human encroachment. "Up north" in Michigan meant lots of forests and rivers and little filling stations and mom and pop grocery stores. It meant few people and lots of wild.

I am wild at heart. I need those unspoiled places to survive. I don't want humans to take over the Earth. I want to believe there are still places where the Plants and the Animals can roam free with no worries of being tortured or run over or captured or sold. I need to believe there are still silent places where one can look up into the sky and see the stars without an airplane or satellite coming into view, or the sound of a distant train or highway interrupting the calls of the loon. I thought back to the mid 1980s, while lying on a stone beach far out in Prince William Sound Alaska. I believed I was in the wildest place in the world. There were billions of stars blanketing the dark night sky, the Milky Way streaming like a ribbon from one end of the horizon to the other. Then I saw one. Then two. Then three. Satellites. My wild heart was broken.

Our beautiful state of Michigan is being eaten alive by the cancer of development, the mantra of our capitalist society. Every day, every year, we are losing more and more of our wild natural lands to development of all kinds - oil and gas, forestry, paved mini-roads being passed off as trail systems, mining...there are very few places left that are safe. Why is it we cannot find value in letting the wild just be - wild? Why is it we can't value the serenity and beauty found in an unspoiled landscape as much as we seem to value holes in the ground left after gravel mining, or clear cut deserts, or polluted waters gifted to us by industry?

Are we really willing to destroy the beauty of this land for the insatiable greed of capitalism? We all want jobs. But can't we create a society where we live sustainably? Where enough is enough, and let all the other creatures live as they are intended?

My wild heart is hurting today.