The number of older Americans, defined as those over 65, is expected to increase from 43 million to 75 million in the next two decades. That is short—but not by much—of a doubling of that critical count. And why is it critical? Because it raises a critical question: Who shall take care of them?

The question, of course, is not limited to the United States. As the standard of living increases everywhere, as advances in medical science and technology continue, with one disease after another being defeated, life has been made better for people everywhere. And not only better…but longer.

And whether “longer” will continue to equate with “better” remains one of humanity’s biggest question marks. Were we better off, as a species, when we died younger? We have told ourselves, “No.” We have told ourselves that the longer we live (barring catastrophic and painful illness), the better. Yet if this is true, we face as a species that critical question: Who shall care for all the longer-living humans?

Do all of us, as members of this species, love those who gave us life—and, by their labors, opened us to its bounty—enough to grant them the fruits of those labors until they die? Even if it takes them a long time to die?

In essence, the question breaks down to this: To what—if anything—are older humans entitled?

That word—ENTITLEMENT—is playing a big role today in American politics. And on Oct. 16—the day of the second Presidential Debate—a story ran on the American television network CNN announcing that the rise in Social Security benefits in the United States will rise by only 1.7% in 2013, which, the news report said, “won’t be quite enough to cover the increase in prices over the last year.”

Still, the CNN report went on, “it’s better than the previous two years, when benefits did not rise at all.”

The cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security is based on the Consumer Price Index, the government’s key inflation reading, the CNN report explained.  The September reading came out Tuesday and it showed overall prices up 2% compared to a year earlier, greatly due to higher prices for food, gasoline and medical care. The so-called core-CPI, which is closely watched by economists and investors because it strips out volatile food and energy prices, also rose 2% over the last 12 months.

Yet even that index provides a wildly inaccurate picture of what senior citizens are really facing, its critics assert, because it does not truly account for the real increase of costs for older people. For instance, older people use much more medical care than most younger human beings—and the cost of medical care has increased by 4.4% in the latest CPI rating, according to the CNN report.

Most seniors no longer pay income taxes in the U.S., and fall in what  Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney described in his now famous “47% speech” at a Republican fundraiser in the U.S. on May 17. Here is what Mr. Romney said:

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That’s an entitlement. The government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…

“These are people who pay no income tax…My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to do is convince the 5-10% in the center that are independants, that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or the other depending upon in some cases emotion, whether they like the guy or not.”

Mr. Romney, asked about his remarks immediately after a video of them became public, defended his observation vigorously, although he allowed as to how he stated them inelegantly. Two weeks later, he had changed his mind, saying that he was “completely wrong” in his comments. American voters were left to decide if this was simply an effort to regain votes he may have lost as a result of his earlier remarks and his defense of them.

The larger question that Mr. Romney’s 47% Speech raises is this: Just what “entitlement” does humanity’s older population have a “right” to claim? Most cannot continue working, and thus producing their own income. Nor should they have to. Fifty-five years or more of “contributing to society” should be sufficient to earn them some time of rest toward the end of their lives if they desire it, no? And who says that a person who is retired is somehow a “non-contributing” member of our society? Must we work—even if we are healthy enough to do so—until we are 80 in order to be considered to be “contributing” to the whole?

One point of view about older people is that their own family members should take care of them, not a government which taxes the income of all of its younger, wage-earning people in order to do so. Another point of view is that the entirety of young humans should take care of the entirety of older humans, as two groups whose lives are intrinsically intertwined.

Within the understandings and the messages of The New Spirituality there is no question on this issue. The primary message of Conversations with God is stated in four words: We Are All One. Clearly, were humanity to adopt and embrace the concepts of CWG and The New Spirituality, there would be no discussion of how humanity as a whole would take care of those members within its species who could no longer take sole care of themselves.

Younger people would do so, and would do so gladly, considering it an honor—even if they had to sacrifice in order to do so. Indeed, especially if they had to sacrifice would they consider it a way of honoring Those Who Have Gone Before.

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