Old lives matter
The recent article on the decision of the Blackfeet tribal leaders to close non-essential access to their lands was especially meaningful to me. Part of their reasoning was the value they placed on their elders and their desire to protect them. That stood out to me as I had recently heard a locker-room conversation between two men who felt we were overreacting in our efforts to contain the pandemic given that the death rates were low and so many of the deaths were among the elderly in nursing homes. One opined that if the time came that he was living in a nursing home, that he would not want to live.
I am not angry with those men. I know one well enough to know he has a broad good side. I valued the honesty of their view and knowing more clearly it is out there, rather than my imagining I was hearing it between the lines of what I have heard from others. I am not discouraged by this. Sometimes we forget ourselves, lose ourselves. Sometimes we need a reminder and a nudge toward what we have forgotten.
Life is a marvelous gift bestowed by something beyond us all, and there is wisdom in being humble before it. We may be less aware in the moment than our Blackfeet brothers, but when we look within ourselves we can see we have been given the same communal sense that understands we cannot be who we are as a people without our elders. It falls upon us who are not the elderly to wear masks when appropriate, to take that social distance, and exercise command over our herd instinct. We do it, in part, to honor through our protection our parents, our grandparents, and every elder who has helped any among us.