Old Age and Treachery

There’s an adage that says, “Old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill.” I’m not exactly sure what to make of that, but I suppose treachery does give one an advantage. The implication is that us geezers have been around long enough to learn all the tricks.

From what I can gather, this quote has been attributed to David Mamet (an American playwright). I can only assume this is accurate, because it truly sounds like a line one would hear in a play. No one I know actually talks like that.

I’m not sure why old folks would ever have to overcome skilled young people. Is someone planning an armed revolt of which I’m unaware? I hope not. I’m not all that good at treachery.

I looked up the term, treachery, just to make sure I completely understood what it means. It turns out I had a pretty fair handle on its connotation. Webster and the boys use terms like “deceit” to define it. That immediately causes a red flag to shoot up in my mind.

That Famous Decalogue

Being from the Judeo-Christian camp, I have been taught some rules for life. Among them is a little compilation we like to call the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-21). If you read that famous Decalogue, what you’ll find is that treachery is frowned upon by your Creator—big time.

I like to think I’ve never been much of a devious person (although, I allow for the possibility that others around me may have a differing opinion). Still, I tend to be one of those “live and let live” kind of guys. It’s not my inclination to lean toward treachery to get what I want.

As a matter of fact, the more I think about it, the more I realize I was much more prone toward treachery in my youthful days than I am now. If my life is somewhat typical, that means Mamet’s saying is highly suspect. I will readily admit that I’ve never been accused of being normal, but I don’t think I’m too far out.

“I’m not anxious to be overrun.”

Now, ponder that. If I’m correct in my thinking, young, skillful people given to treachery (possibly due to their youthful immaturity) are a danger to old, honest ones. No wonder Mamet implied we should turn to treachery ourselves (if, indeed, that’s what he was doing). I, for one, am not anxious to be overrun by these traitorous, youthful hordes.

Before I get too carried away with this paranoia, let me just say I have every hope that young people will not come after us. Part of their skillset (in direct opposition to our own) is the mastery of technology. My grandbabies are more tech savvy than I am. Heaven forbid they should turn on us. We couldn’t possibly muster up enough treachery to thwart their evil efforts.

Frankly, I’m probably making too much of all this. Another of Mamet’s famous sayings is, “Always tell the truth–it’s the easiest thing to remember.” So much for treachery…

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]

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