At times I accompany a friend who is a hospice volunteer, to her regular visit to the survivor of a family. This old guys health is deteriorating and he wonders why he still lives.
He and his wife retired to the southwest over 25 years ago. He went on to work as a nurse or hospital aid for some years. His wife had a severe stroke and he became her loyal and unwavering caretaker for many years. He is quite a character, very opinionated and a survivor of the Battle of the Bulge. He was wounded there and spent some time in a French hospital during the war.
He feels that the old like him, the poor and many others are ignored because they are off the rich and powerful radar. He feels the US system is rigged and most politics is mostly tricks.
That aside, he is faced with no longer being able to live in his mobile home park. He has one niece who lives states away and an even older sister who just moved into a old folks home states away. The VA provides him with some medical help but mostly he is a living artifact that cannot make ends meet in the modern world. Many are in this situation.
He cannot make it into the nearby inexpensive assisted living home until there is an opening. Contingent on this is he would have to sell his home to have enough to make the move. Being barely able to walk, most moving presents a huge obstacle to him. He was ambiguously looking forward to moving, being that he likes his independence, yet must face the reality that he may at any time be incapacitated. So he sits on his couch in this limbo, waiting for something to change but feeling trapped in more ways than one.
(He has many hand gestures. His fingers flick out on the right hand to demonstrate he is an informed man of action, for a photo where his reading materials are all about.)
We help him all we can but there are limitations for us, given gas cost and distance to aiding him.
So here is the deal. We as a culture leave the very ones who saved our common freedom to languish in uncertainty and a profound sense of abandonment because we are a heartless and self centered people, or for some reasons, the plight of the needy are kept out of the big picture. Remember Katrina?
With elections coming, I would urge anyone who can to remember those who have served this country to not forget we live from their service to us. Remember them more than shooting some rifles off at their funeral. Remember that others, as well, are unwanted, have made mistakes, some of which they have not recovered or redeemed themselves from. They are still human beings. Each of our own humanity is defined on how the least of us are treated by the rest. We are each that rest.
There is the unfortunate tendency in this modern world for short attention spans. The “top ten list” of things to think about has been shifted to individualistic “responsibility”, bypassing or subverting the truth that there is a commons, there are common responsibilities, and not only when rich companies get into trouble here or from their policies overseas. Much of the worlds interest, which we all are are part of, must be on the radar.
If I ignore the issues facing human beings in my home or my world, it is darkness that becomes self perpetuating. The light only comes out into view when our hearts are allowed to look, that seeing is illumination.