‘Peer’ is one of the words that my now permanent residence in these United States has required me to adapt in meaning unequivocally. In Europe, the sense is quite clear, pointing to an individual of some social position, good breeding, having a status equivalent if not superior to oneself, someone to be admires simply for existing, to be followed and obeyed as if decreed by holy writ. Being the only truly universal measurement of status within this continent in wealth and remembering that success and usury are the least appropriate of reasons for perceiving superiority, a sea change of definition was wholly appropriate.
I am now happy to accept ‘peer’ as an individual of similar age, within say a span of ten years, social standing, like abilities, a co-worker, as near a duplicate of myself as is imaginable. The age qualification is interesting, ten years, a decade, equating to one historic age of man, a measure much banded about in many similar circumstances, a magical length of time somehow capable of enclosing a whole litany of moments, experiences, that foreshadow, empower, a major shift to a new and potentially completely unrelated period, another age.
Personally, I have somehow successfully managed, probably quite undeservedly, to reach with some comfort that once most sought of epochs, the septuplet, and must foresee and accept my ultimate peer group expanding boundlessly till ‘tis pronounced with some finality and fatality, minus one. The aged have somewhat significantly become the largest growing class, causing a strange disparity in economic, political, and social structures. Was a time retirement was seen as a mighty bonus, a treat earned by a few as a reward for duties performed. Today that onetime unusual accomplishment has become assured, requiring a panoply of social, medical, and entertainment personnel to deal with the ever-increasing plethora.
Retirement does not even indicate withdrawal as once did, elders deciding that they are far too significant to quietly slip into deserved and suited secluded obscurity. For proof but cast an eye across the ages of our figureheads, nay presidents even.