Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and [a]beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. --Luke 10:30-32 (NASB)
How can it be that despite the pleas of an incredulous 911 operator trying to elicit a twinge of human compassion, a trained nurse stood by and watched 87-year-old Lorraine Bayless suffer a heart attack, collapse and die?
When people lack internal character, compassion and common sense, they relate only to external rules. The Glenwood Gardens retirement community’s stonyhearted “no CPR” policy provided the Bad Samaritan nurse just the cover she needed to absolve herself of refusing to rescue a fellow human being in distress.
The context of this tragedy is a scandalously under-regulated retirement community system, a health care system increasingly driven more by money than by compassion, and a society that is growing colder to the value of its older members and of life itself.
We don’t have to succumb to a society that stands by and watches the elderly die, stuffs aging parents away like discarded heirlooms and even hastens their death through euthanasia and assisted suicide. We can reverse this creeping culture of death—by visiting and caring for the elderly, enacting protective laws and regulations, and teaching our children to value human life and esteem their elders.
Unless we redeem the lives of the aged among us, we are not only imperiling the elderly today; one day we will find ourselves at the mercy of a merciless society.