News about former VP Cheney's latest heart problems is not on the front page at the moment, so I figure it is a good time to make this point.
On general John Donne principles I hope every person has as full and long a life as possible. But there are specific reasons to hope that Cheney surmounts these problems and goes on for a while. It has to do with one more uncompleted cycle in his life.
We all know the cliche about people who switch from youthful idealism to mid-life flinty-mindedness. One version goes, If you're not a socialist in your twenties, you have no heart; if you're not a capitalist in your forties, you have no mind. I think there's an important addition: If you're not a humanist in your seventies, you have no soul.
It doesn't always happen, but we celebrate the examples when it does. The elderly warriors who become peacemakers. The tycoons who become philanthropists. The schemers and narcissists who become conciliators and mentors. If the twenties-to-forties shift reflects a growing awareness of life's hard realities, the later shift reflects an understanding of life's tragedies and unfairnesses and humanity's shared risks and hopes. Think of Ebeneezer Scrooge's last-minute conversion in A Christmas Carol.