Often arguments about the quality of a person’s life turns on the issue of productivity in society. Think issues related to euthanasia. Those of us approaching the downhill side of life’s mountain often wonder at what point will we become the next cultural throwaway. Many long to have control over when that happens rather than leave it to another to decide.
For years I have enjoyed, and been challenged, by Kristen’s writing. We met many years ago. Our paths do not cross often in real time but on the interwebs I am able to read from an honest keyboard. It is all in the story. Her’s is not mine to share. But, she has done us a favor of writing about Other Peoples Stories that become part of our stories.
Recently she had an entry titled, No One Asked. You pastors who read my blog should take a cue from this nurse, the daughter of a pastor, who pastors while she cares. “Pastors,” you ask? Yes. Maybe, even to her chagrin, practices the Way of Jesus in the vocabulary of our mutual friend’s song, Practice Resurrection. Or striking a more distinct chord, her oft read literary inspiration, Wendell Berry.
When faced with one of those what do you say moments during the re-traced conversation, Kristen nodded twice. Then, when given the occasion to help re-create value in human life, she points to children. Yes. I could not help but think of Jesus inviting the child to sit in his lap to help his disciples learn how the Kingdom of God undermines our preconceptions and social conventions.
Children call into question the argument from production as the means to value human life. In as much as children may produce moments of joy, they may also be the source of great heartache. If we are measuring in economic terms, they produce nada. Even more, they are the objects of Madison Avenue’s attempt to get at your coin, your money. In that way they not only do not produce, they help extract your hard earned cash.
I will let you read how the conversation ends and invite you to suggest in what ways you see empathy at work,
“Children aren’t productive members of society. Should we euthanize children?”
He looked at me sharply and paused.
“No, because children didn’t ask to be here.”
“Sir…none of us asked to be here.”
He looked at me carefully for the first time since I met him an hour ago. I was grinning at him now.
“I think I like you.”
“You know all the other nurses are scared of you, right?”
I held his hand, and we grinned at each other for a few minutes while our tears dried, our faces flickering in the blue light of the muted television in the darkening room.