At different stages in our lives, it takes on a whole different meaning. As kids, our parents care for us, wipe our mouths, our bottoms, and ready the world for us and us for the world. That function has evolved over the past generation, and the pros and cons of parenting today vs. twenty years ago is a hot debate. What happens once kids leave home and begin lives of their own starts a cycle of change.
At some point in the grand scheme of things, the roles reverse. It’s often so subtle, we don’t realize it has happened. And then it’s just the way it is. What is disheartening is that in this country, so many of our elderly are not well cared for, nor does our society treat them with the respect they’ve earned and deserve. This is something we could take from the Asian and African-American cultures: treat with reverence those who’ve brought you into this world, because as they leave it, we are made better by their time with us. When we shove our parents and grandparents into nursing homes and forget about them, we are only perpetuating that mentality with our children. What then? Are we ready to be the next victim? Do we want to be the ones on the hidden cameras being abused by unhappy nursing home workers, taking their life’s frustrations out on those who can’t defend themselves? Much like people who hurt animals and babies, those who abuse the elderly deserve nothing less than the exact same treatment. If we truly subscribed to the mentality of an eye for an eye, many would think before they acted. As it is now, we’re simply digressing into a society so plagued by violence, we don’t even see the severity and totality of it. As Gandhi once said, “An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.” So the message is to do unto others as we’d like them to do unto us. If you haven’t talked to your parents or grandparents lately, call them. Tell them you love them…better yet, go visit them. Life is short, and before you know it, visiting will only happen when you pass through the Pearly Gates. If you pass through the Pearly Gates. Perhaps the best message is that the love, respect, and compassion you show now gets you a ticket in line at those Gates. If more people had faith in that, it truly would be a better world to live in.