Wisdom of our Elders

I was listening to a television rerun last night.  The scene was a room full of nursing home residents who had been essentially “dumped” into the facility by family.

A few of them commented, “People treat animals better than us. Why do people care more for their animals than their elderly? If they treated their pets like they are treating us, they would be in trouble.”

Then a lone senior voice from the group said, “Because they don’t like themselves.”

Because they don’t like themselves.

That comment struck me. 

Now please believe me that I love animals. I grew up with them and have had many for pets. I abhor animal abuse and neglect. I am extremely concerned about our environment and how we are misusing the Earth. Those are topics for future posts.

But I have often wondered why it is that some who champion animal rights, who are most vocal in treating  pets like family members and who are the most ecologically minded of us also stridently advocate abortion on demand,  rationing medical care for the elderly, and clearly but indirectly imply that the old, the senile, the handicapped have less to offer and thus possess less value than the young and vigorous.

Is it because they don’t like themselves?

Do abortion advocates like their fertility?

Do euthanasia proponents like their longevity in the face of human illness?

Do those who ignore and abandon the elderly like their own mortality?

Have we as a society grown to dislike ourselves?

Are these moral and social evils due in part at least to a lack of self-acceptance?

This ultimately is a test of our faith. We who believe in the redemptive power of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection — if we truly believe — can really only be a people of  joy and gratitude. How can we  dislike ourselves if we have within us God’s presence and love? How can we treat others as less than human when we believe that in them we are called to see Jesus himself?

About Deacon Bob

Moderator: Deacon Bob Yerhot of the Diocese of Winona, Minnesota.
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4 Responses to Wisdom of our Elders

  1. karen querna says:

    Bob,
    I would be interested to see the data that leads to some of the conclusions in the paragraph that starts with “But, I have wondered……”. As a RN that works daily wiht families, I have yet to meet a new mom that does not want to be a good mom, some with some of the highest risks for failure, pull themselves up and do well. I see a lot of hope and joy. What hurts people along the way is drug addiction, verbal, physical abuse, and other excesses. So at the end of life perhaps decisions are jaded.
    Now per the abortion issue, I once heard a speaker from Canada state “Abortions are chosen not because of choice but because of lack of choice” .
    I daily encounter professionals that are working to create a healthy environment for children of the world. I wold love to see every birthing hospital in the US to be “Baby Friendly”. That is where it starts. The problem is that corporations with finanical profit as a MO Lobby and prevent postive change from happening. So my test of faith is to continue to be positve and believe that change does happen,.

  2. Deacon Bob says:

    You have a point. I have no data, just experiences with people and observations about political and social activities. I am not intending to state that all or nearly all people who love animals as family advocate abortion, rationing of care, etc.

    My point is I find it difficult to understand how one can so admirably embrace and love animals, the environment, woman’s needs, etc. and at the same time be stridently advocating abortion “rights” and/or euthansia, or restricting access to medical care to our seniors. Seems intellectually dishonest. I wonder if it isn’t more of an emotional issue emerging from a lack of self-acceptance.

  3. Joe Weigel says:

    Good discussion.

    I know it can be overused but we know that “the wages of sin is death.” Contraception, abortion, euthanasia, all lead to death. The first and the second also lead to the death of the family, culture, and nation that allows and encourages it. Contraception tries to disconnect marriage and sex from the gift and responsibility of children. Abortion and contraception try to separate children from the well being of the family and nation/world. Marriages connect families (clans). Children connect current and future generations with each other. Parents (and society should) offer security to children. Children, when grown, offer security to the parent’s generation either directly or indirectly. Our US social security system has resulted in a disconnect between generations as parents have been less dependent on their children for support in old age. However the model was flawed (assuming there would always be more payers and payees), mismanaged (funds were lent out and never paid back) and abused (folks are given so much more than they put in) . Basically we have stolen the security of future generations to pay for our excesses and with the help of contraception and abortion have limited the population of the future generations that we must rely on for our own security.

    It’s just like sin. It may temporarily make you feel good at a cost of future pain for you and others. Unchecked, it leads to death of the sinner as well as pain and possibly death for the innocent. We all suffer.

    We should teach our future generations about mercy. We are going to need it.

    -Deacon Joe

  4. Deacon Bob says:

    I am not well schooled in John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, but from what I know, like most everything JPII wrote and thought, it is centered on the human person, a full understanding and appreciation of the individual person including the physical. A genuinely human person is one who appreciates his or her body, rather than disparages it or deliberately uses it for purposes at odds with its natural function and end.

    I wonder if we as a society, in general, have come to a dislike (and rejection) of our physicality when we find it demands of us a response other than what our more affective desires may want to accept.

    Mother Teresa, for instance, seemed to have had a grasp of JPII’s Theology of the Body, and lived it fully, even in the midst of dire circumstances in which she found herself on a daily basis, circumstances external to her (abject poverty and illness) and internal (dark night of the soul). She never “dumped” someone into an institution. I believe she never did because she found in herself, her vocation, something/someone she loved, not rejected or disdained.

    Maybe that is what that solo senior voice in the television rerun was getting at?

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