Healthy kids and adults should not be forced to wear face masks to save Grandma, and it is unbelievably selfish of Grandma or anyone else to expect others to wear face masks. So says the writer of a letter that appeared last week in the North Scott Press. Furthermore, Grandma should be thankful for the many years she has lived and should not expect children to give up their happiness to prolong her life for a few more years.
The letter writer insists that anyone in a high risk category bears full responsibility for taking steps to protect their health. Self-isolate, wear masks, but do not expect society to shut down for you, the letter writer admonishes.
God must weep at the selfishness of this response to the tenacious coronavirus pandemic. The letter writer’s opinion contradicts the sacredness of life from womb to tomb. It divides rather than fosters relationships among the generations that are crucial to learning and growing.
With the upheaval the pandemic has wrought on our world, our fear and anxiety lead us to place blame on someone else. We create scapegoats, such as senior citizens, immigrants, persons with pre-existing health conditions, the working poor, and the list goes on. This editorial focuses on senior citizens, the new scapegoats, whose wisdom years should be valued.
Certainly, they ought to take responsibility to protect themselves from the coronavirus. However, we are in this pandemic together — young, old and in between — companions on an uncertain journey that requires each of us to look out for one another for the sake of humanity.
Loyola Press released a coffee table-size book titled “Sharing the Wisdom of Time” by Pope Francis and Friends in October 2018. A press release accompanying the life-affirming book stated that Pope Francis “has championed elders as ‘reservoirs of wisdom and historical memory” and advises that their insights can offer understanding and direction to the young people of today.” The Holy Father envisions an alliance between elders and youths walking together into the future with faith and hope. That alliance cannot happen if society sends a message to Grandma that she is a burden and not a gift to the well-being of others.
Our Catholic Church teaches “that every person is precious, that people are more important than things, and that the measure of every institution is whether it threatens or enhances the dignity of the human person.” Furthermore, “every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities — to one another, to our families and to the larger society” (usccb.org, beliefs and teachings).
What do we need to enhance our human dignity? What are the things required to maintain human decency? Certainly not letters that make Grandma feel guilty for living. Our faith calls us to celebrate the grandmas and grandpas and other senior citizens in our lives — in our thoughts, deeds and interactions. Call them; visit them at a safe distance if that is possible. Send them a card to let them know you are thinking of them… Pray for them and for a peaceful, life-affirming solution to the pandemic. Purchase “Sharing the Wisdom of Time” by Pope Francis and Friends (https://tinyurl.com/y6o57zxk) and read it.
Pray for the letter writer and for all of us to gain compassion.
Barb Arland-Fye, Editor