Monday, February 19, 2007

Respect Your Elders

In most of the civilized world, Grandparents are highly respected and cared for. They do not get put into nursing homes, ignored, or treated as a nuisance. In the United States of America, it is all to common to see the elderly treated with disrespect and contempt. The irony of it all is that unless we die young...we will all be the elderly one day. We are training the next generation by setting the example. How are we training them to care for us?

I have a neighbor who lives a lone. She cannot drive. She has children. Where are they? She depends on her church and neighbors to help meet her needs. Unless invited by a neighbor who wants to be blessed with her company, she would spend Christmas alone. She is funny and entertaining to have around. She's kind and generous.

America, home of the free and the brave....

How free are the elderly? How much courage does it take to care for them? To treat them with respect? To love them?

It is their generation that fought in the wars that have kept us free. It is by their hands we were housed, fed, clothed, cared for in sickness and loved even when we were not loveable. Our parents and grandparents pray(ed) for us. It was Mom and Grandma who wiped our noses, changed our diapers, cleaned our home, and kissed our injuries to make them better. It is our fathers and grandfathers who worked to put food on the table, provide a home, cuddled us in their laps, and held us when we were frightented. They were our caregivers, our protectors. When they are old, shouldn't that be seen as an opportunity to do for them as they have done for us? Shouldn't we consider it a blessing to do for them what they can no longer do for themselves? How do we show our appreciation?

In other countries the elderly live at home with their children. They are the most respected individuals in the house....not here in the home of the free and the brave. We're too busy trying to live the American dream...big career, power, possessions, fame and fortune. The pioneer days of yesterday have turned into the entrepreneur days of today. It is much to common to find those who brought us to where we are, locked away in some nursing home...forgotten, mistreated, neglected, and/or abused.

This is the destiny of my generation and of my children's...the destiny we have created for ourselves. It is a destiny that we can change. But are we willing? Do we have the courage? Can we just stop thinking of our own prosperity that will die with us and start thinking of those who made it possible?

These are God's instructions (take note that "if" is not present in either quote):

"Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD." (Lev. 19:32 NIV).

"Honor your father and your mother....." (Exodus 20:12).

This is how we love God.

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