What has happened to us that it has become acceptable to cheer another’s misfortune, to applaud death, to cry out to let someone die? Last week’s Republican debate reached a new low. When Ron Paul was asked if a person who was uninsured should be refused treatment if he became ill, Paul at first referenced that freedom is all about making choices and taking responsibility for those choices. When pressed and asked if that person should be allowed to die, there were shouts from the audience of “Let him die.”
To his credit, Paul looked a bit stunned at the audience’s cries and said no. I was shocked at the cries of “Let him die.” When did compassion go out of fashion?
We can debate government’s role in our society, the soaring cost of health insurance and medical care and what the solutions may be, but when we lose compassion, we lose a bit of our humanity.
We are all interconnected. Since humans first appeared on the planet, we have lived in groups. Our survival as a species must be dependent on this dynamic. It has been said that a society can be judged by how it treats the least among them. I fear we are not doing so well on that count.
Many years ago, I read John Donne’s Meditation 17 Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions. Those words resonated with me and always stayed with me. They were true when he wrote them in 1624 and they remain so today:
“No man is an island, entire of it self; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee….”