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?