Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Can't wait for my turn

Dick Cheney is to old to get a heart.  That's what I read.  He's to old to get a heart.  In other words, he's to old to live.  He doesn't deserve it because, best case scenario, he'll only be able to use his new, transplanted heart for about 10-20 years max before he dies of old age.  Better give it to someone else who can get more life out of the thing because after all, the man is 71 years old for crying out loud. As you probably know, Dick got his heart.  The debate continues in regards to who gets the scarce, vital organs out there and who doesn't.  Seems that there are many who believe that age should be a factor (this is currently not the case).  Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist practicing in California, summed it up best in the New York Times; "the ethical issues are not that he had a transplant, but who didn't".  I don't know about you, but this whole debate deeply troubles me.  

Please do not read my remarks today and think that I don't like kids or that the children and youth of the world are not important.  Please don't wonder how I can be ignorant enough to not see, in an age when vital organs are in fact scarce, that it makes perfect, logical sense to give them to those who might benefit from them the longest.  Yes, it makes perfect sense to give them to those who have their "whole life ahead of them".  I get it.  If, God forbid, my 5 year old needed a heart and it was given instead to Dick Cheney, I too might well up with anger.  I know I would.  So, again, I get it.  Here's what troubles me.  The language and scope of the debate sends a message to our "seniors" doesn't it?  The message is not new.  You don't matter.  Your time is done.  You have reached the point that your life is no longer as valuable as another life.  Thanks for all you've done.  Thanks for leading us through World Wars.  Thank you so much for navigating us through the tumultuous 60's and 70's; it could have gone a much different way.  We appreciate the way that you so nicely preserved things for us and moved our technology towards the rather amazing place that we find it today.  Could you step aside now?  We've got to move on.  Let us do what we need to do now.  You go to Branson and watch Mickey Gilley and Andy Williams sing all of that old stuff nobody listens to anymore.  If we need you we will call you.  But don't wait by the phone.  We can take it from here.

I have this nightmare.  If you've been reading my blog then you know that I am a priest in the Episcopal Church.  The church I serve is amazing.  It's really grown.  People listen with some level of intensity when I preach.  They look to me to stand behind the altar and pray the prayers and touch the bread and the wine.  They expect decisions from me.  They want vision and leadership.  They look for me to teach them the things of scripture.  They ask deep questions and they want answers...from me.  One day they won't.  No one will. This is my nightmare.  I will be all alone at a very old age and not one single person will care about what I say or what I believe.  They won't ask me about vision and they won't look to me for major decisions. People won't nod their heads in affirmation when I speak and they won't feverishly make notes as I give my interpretation of the Gospels.  I will be to old for any of that. The world will have passed me by.  Moving on without me.  A life that was once filled with the sense of so much purpose will be left staring out of the window to watch the squirrels digging the ground.  If I need a liver or a heart to go on with my life, I will read somewhere that the majority believe that it's better to let me die.  Depressing?  All nightmares are.

Years ago the Diocese that I serve created a vision and core values. It stated that we are "youthful".  We are "reenergized" by the constant infusion of youth.  The church is constantly seeking ways to reach out to youth and young adults.  Youth youth youth.  This is all well and good but something is missing here.  We must not forget who or what "brung us" to where we are.  We must not forget that the vision and direction that we applaud these days was set on the foundation of those that had vision and direction before us.  No life is useless and no life should be forgotten.  Even when we pass the age of 72, we are, according to the Bible I read, "children of God", a "Royal Priesthood", and the "Body of Christ".  We all have "gifts" to be used to advance the Kingdom of God.  Nowhere do I read that once you reach retirement age that you are now disqualified from doing the work that us "young-uns" are supposed to be doing.  In God's eyes, the folks who are left alone in our nursing homes to throw bread to the gathered pigeons are no less valuable than my 5 year old son or his dad the young, energetic priest.  Search the Bible if you will, but I can save you the trouble.  You won't find any footnotes or asterisks that would lead you to believe that God takes away our value and worth once we are limited to moving in a "Hover-round".  Can I be bold enough to say that one of the great sins of our generation is the way in which our culture can so flippantly set aside the lives of the older and weaker children of God?  They need us and we need them.  They are not a burden to society.  My goodness, didn't they bear burdens for us?  It's time we repent of this sin I think.  Look at it this way.  One day it will be you.  It will be me. There's no stopping it.  One day it's our turn.  Someone will scoff when we can't quite figure out the IPhone 15.  They'll take away our license because we are "dangerous".  Our eyesight will go.  We will learn firsthand the meaning of "fixed income".  Will we yearn for the day when we are forgotten?  I think not.  

So I say way to go Dick Cheney.  Hope you live to be 100.