Sometimes a simple vignette synopsizes a culture
The plight of a couple in their eighties that my wife witnessed two days ago serves to synopsize the lack of shared community that characterizes American society. (I write about the same issue, in a different context, here.)
A heart-breaking vignette
My wife, an Air Force flight commander, was at the commissary. She rounded an aisle to witness an eighty-plus year-old man (standing beside his sit-on walker) spraying blood from a cut on his hand as he dementedly tried to wipe his hands together to stop the bleeding.
His equally elderly wife, frayed from years of care-taking him, tried to calm his hands by grabbing them and verbally soothing what was left of his barely functioning cognitive brain.
Her efforts failed. A significant volume of blood continued to spatter the floor and drip from the man’s wound. Flustered by the unexpected challenge to her already spent ability to cope with Life’s most unpleasant end-of-life issues, she tried to wipe it up.
Commissary shoppers flowed obliviously around the couple, ignoring the red-signaled scene. Whatever shared fraternity there may be in current or past military service was completely absent.
With the sole exception of my wife, whose primary instinct in any situation is to help (being a nurse and one of the world’s unrecognized saints), no one stopped.
Where is this nation’s heart?
If we have not the compassion to stop and aid our elderly, what does that say about us and our culture?
Why should it take an unrecognized saint to take charge of mending the bonds of our humanity, when a situation (outlined in blood and ataxic frailty) is so visibly in need?
Is it all hypocritical blather, when we speak of Jesus?
Where, in this tiresomely self-righteous (allegedly) Christian nation, is a genuine allegiance to Jesus’ message?