Much of the country is lost . . . painfully lost.
Overwhelmed by suspicion and fear, a terrible ugliness pervades our times. Some feel so threatened by anyone who knocks on their door or comes up their driveway, that they answer with a gun.
Chained to their own fears, they stare at the dark shadows of their self-imposed isolation, trusting no one, believing the worst of others. They’ve replaced empathy with dread and decency with stark cruelty.
Fueled by the phantasms of an extreme ideology, they are like the lost souls in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave who would rather place their faith in the distorted shadows on the wall in front of them than move into the light of reality.
However, their pain is our pain, too, as we struggle to find a balance between those who passionately believe in rights and those who believe those rights should be tempered by responsibilities.
How can we begin to trust one another, again? Who can we look to for guidance?
There are such people. In fact, there are 3 million of them in the country today. Driven by service to those in need, they practice compassion, kindness, and decency on a daily basis.
Who are these models of virtue?
Spending a few days in the hospital recently, I was the recipient of the benevolence of nurses.
Nurses not only help us heal, but they make us feel safe, protected. Their compassion is not a shadow on the wall, it’s real, their kindness, genuine; their decency, beyond reproach; and their service to others is vital to those in pain.
While some turn to enlightened texts, Gandhi said, “an ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.”
Nurses teach us that it is better to be kind than cruel, that it is better to strive for our highest aspirations than give in to our worst impulses, and that compassion is as important to the soul of America as are our rights.
Kindness. Decency. Respect.
Nurses can show us the way, but it’s up to us to move forward.