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The Law of the Jungle?

Dear VSM LifeSharers,                                                                                                           August 2011

            Just where should we look for models in dealing with people who are afflicted by Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS and other debilitating maladies?  Traditionally, of course, those models have come from heroes of mercy like Florence Nightingale and Clara Barton.  We look in a broader sense to the ideals of Western Civilization which are taken from religion, especially Christianity.

            But modern times call for modern ethics, something more in line with the natural (rather than the supernatural) order we now worship.  Therefore, even if the resultant methods seem ugly and cold-hearted to those whose consciences are trained in old-fashioned ideas, progressive social engineers are laying out new plans for our ill and aging citizens.

            As an example, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the touching observations of April Bogle, the Director of Public Relationships at Emory University’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion, who proposes that the best model we have before us for treating our elderly is…wait for it…the law of the jungle!  And I’m not making this up.  Here is Ms. Bogle’s mind-boggling prescription for ethics in the post-Christian era.

It's simply unnatural to encourage old people to live on well past their functionality; I'm convinced of this now more than ever since I returned from the rainforest of Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula. This may sound like a heartless statement, but it is just the opposite.

For more than 10 years I've watched my father -- a brilliant college administrator and professor of history, a progressive thinker and agent of social change, a man who loved to ride his bike for exercise, worked in his rock garden for meditative therapy, grilled hamburgers for his wife and two daughters and wrote stories about his past for fun -- deteriorate into someone who is lost, scared, immobile...

There are the smells that you can't hide no matter how attentive the staff. And the sounds. The jabbering, moaning and crying is a constant, like the ocean, wave upon wave. And then, of course, there's the television that's always on...

In a nursing home, there is no system for life and death except the endless waiting. The rainforest, on the other hand, has it all worked out. Obviously it is a brutal plan, but I argue no more horrendous than the "care" people endure in a nursing home. In the rainforest, everything is about survival -- from being eaten, from lack of sun or water, from limited nutritious soil. Yet everything, except perhaps the big cats and big snakes, gets eaten. Everything dies. And the remains are taken care of by four different kinds of vultures and thousands of other natural recyclers.

Monkeys befriend toucans and then break their necks before eating them. Frogs eat mosquito larvae and other pesky bugs. Termites eat rotting trees and build large nests that birds invade for dinner. Even the trees know how to survive -- the walking palm sprouts new roots and kills old ones so that it can "walk" to find the nourishing sun under the thick tree canopy.

And the smells? Earthy fresh, clean, sometimes floral, occasionally appetizing (flowers that smell like garlic). And the sounds? A symphony of the original tweets and twitters, clicks and clacks, even howls and squeals. Some are songs of joy, some are sirens of warning, some are simply announcements of being alive.

Is this more brutal or terrifying than an Alzheimer's home? At least in the rainforest, nature is in balance and everything is there for a purpose. It is a highly complex system of interconnectedness and interdependency that functions perfectly when left on its own.

        Did you ever imagine that such self-centered savagery could be promoted as public policy by a high-ranking educator here in America?  Or that such a cold-hearted creed could be praised by other social engineers for its “reasonable” utilitarianism? 

        For my part, I choose Florence Nightingale instead of a neck-breaking monkey.  I choose the aroma of loving sacrifices lifted to heaven instead of the stink of decay which Ms. Bogle finds so perversely appealing.  And I reject completely her notions of becoming one with the natural order.  I choose instead to worship nature’s Creator, the Lord God Who laid down specific laws about justice, holiness and the love due to God and one’s fellow man.  These laws proscribe man’s tender care of anyone who needs help: the preborn child, the infant, the sick, the crippled, the aged, the orphan, the widow, the persecuted, the prisoner and so on.  That help needs to be given selflessly, liberally, responsibly, without question of reward and always in the secure confidence that man’s life is designed for an existence beyond this present one. 

        Ms. Bogle’s desire to throw people away who have passed their “functionality” is unconscionably cruel.  Furthermore, in her idealization of the jungle, she mistakes happiness for what is actually horror and religious virtue for what is ravenous violence.  It is as remarkable an example of a culture of death as one can imagine – so astounding you expect it to be an outrageous satire.  Or more accurate still, a nightmare.

        I’m afraid, however, that Ms. Bogle’s ideas are not particularly extraordinary.  Brutal and wicked, yes.  But they are but the logical conclusion of a philosophy which denies the existence of a personal God, which teaches that man is nothing but a cosmic accident with no inherent dignity or spiritual worth, and which promotes a “survival of the fittest” hedonism in which a person is justified in removing any and all obstacles (even other people) in his quest for pleasure.  Just look at how the powers that be are promoting euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.  Or consider Planned Parenthood (the abortions, the poisons, the lies, the lack of care for women, the criminal activity, the cover-ups, the enabling of promiscuity and perversion) and remember that this sinister business operates with the ardent support of the press, business, government, churches, Girl Scouts, Komen for the Cure and American taxpayers.

      No, the culture of death isn’t merely the stuff of horror films or teenagers shooting each other on street corners or even terrorism.  It has become the atmosphere that the West breathes every day.  And, as socialists gain greater control of government, education and entertainment,   it will become more expansive and coercive still. 

      Yet no matter how far this culture of death reaches and how much it demands subservience, we must be committed to fighting back.  Instead of surrendering to the laws of the jungle that would disregard the lives and well being of our senior citizens, we must lovingly care for our parents and grandparents and others who need care.  For Vital Signs, this means also that Claire and I will continue to make friends with residents of nursing homes, visit shut-ins, advocate a morally responsible health care system and present “When Swing Was King” for their enjoyment and edification.

      And  instead of surrendering to the laws of the jungle that would treat preborn children as intruders and parasites, we must respect and defend “the least of these” as our Lord commands.   Again, for Claire and I, this means informing men and women about the baseness and dangers of abortion through our web site, Vital Signs Blog, our Russian-language site, sidewalk counseling, support of Christian CPCs, discipleship efforts, etc.  And finally, rather than surrender to the laws of the jungle that would teach man to worship the creation instead of the Creator, we must all determine to keep preaching the gospel, keep teaching the Bible and keep living lives marked by truth and beauty as we endeavor to honor the character of God.  We do so in anticipation of the bountiful blessings of heaven purchased for us through the shed blood of Jesus.

       We know you assume similar obligations in your lives and we find much comfort and stimulation to ongoing “love and good deeds” in your resolve.  Nevertheless, let us all dedicate ourselves anew to serving God in confidence, in winsomeness and in gladness of heart.  For, make no mistake, it is a calling far more noble and rewarding than any “monkey business” the jungle can provide.

Blessings,

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P.S. For those of you on Facebook, please make sure you’re “Friends” of Claire, of me AND of  the Facebook site for Nebraskans Against Planned Parenthood of which Vital Signs has become an active partner. Thanks so much.