This last year has left a dizzying, disorienting effect on us all. We have been like the boxer staggered by a vicious uppercut, collapsing onto the ropes, bobbing and ducking, trying to get to the end of the round – only to be told that the round has been extended indefinitely.
If only we could get to our corner! All the promises of vaccines by spring and normalcy by summer seem as illusory as the ones that preceded them (flattened curves, temporary lockdowns, school closures). Now we are confronted with new threats of variant, mutant, highly-contagious strains of the virus for which even the previously-positive American may not be immune. No wonder there is a malaise that winter alone cannot explain.
In times past, and in moments in history like these, individuals normally would turn to the solace of extended families, and together, turn to God, their Creator. But fewer Americans than ever have the support of a family that might soften the hardships that no longer seem temporary. And God seems to have been forgotten.
Faith and reason
One of my heroes – the great Polish philosopher and pope, Karol Wojtyla – once wrote, “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth – in a word, to know himself – so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.”
Unfortunately, when God is forgotten, the eagle no longer soars. Instead it veers wildly, and the truth gets winged first. Today the inviolable value of the life of every elder is being challenged. We saw this during emergency room triage procedures last spring that denied life-saving services for the aged dying of COVID in favor of younger patients. We see many of the elderly now isolated, perhaps even forgotten.
In the dance of faith and science, science became the American idol, the winner. Technology is now the dominant formative force in society, accountable to no one, regulated only on the margins, governed by a politburo of the elect. The “progress” that their head-spinning technological developments deliver, ironically, bring with them Soviet-era consequences: the individual, powerless; “right thinking,” obligatory; and those who oppose the tech giants, disappeared.
This blog is my humble attempt to be a votary of truth in an age of lies and deception, in a time when artificial intelligence steamrolls forward with little care of ethics in the direction of the elderly poor, disabled, mentally ill and others deemed of insufficient worth. Aging with Dignity’s website seeks to be an oasis of information to help you discover the truth about yourself and the world you live in, in all its beauty and splendor.
Mother Teresa urged me to start Aging with Dignity 25 years ago. I believe this non-profit was made for this very moment. I hope you agree that the truth – the whole truth and nothing but the truth – is all that can unite us. The truth is not something human beings manufacture. It exists in the order of the Divine to guide and govern our affairs on earth. If we do not follow this truth, there are consequences.
Joseph R. Biden begins the final chapter of his long political life with a large swath of Americans from all points of view rooting for him. Our nation has a great deal at stake in his success. Reflecting on his own personal faith in his inaugural address, President Biden said, “Recent weeks and months have taught us a painful lesson. There is truth and there are lies, lies told for power and for profit. And each of us has a duty and responsibility, as citizens, as Americans, and especially as leaders, leaders who have pledged to honor our Constitution and protect our nation, to defend the truth and defeat the lies.”
I pray he meant what he said. He will be measured not by his words but by his actions. May all Americans work together to “defend the truth and defeat the lies”. The first step of this endeavor should be safeguarding the great God-given dignity of our elders.