Someone I care about in my family is suffering from back problems. Severe pain deters him from getting about, as usual. Because of his status in the family, all members are wrangling about what their part should be. This has caused me much reflection.
Families are places of identity, comfort, pain, and even, disconnect, at times. But, family bonds go beyond normal boundaries of choice. Without an ability to choose one's family of origin, the child is bound to be formed without his conscious choice and coming to terms with his own values, until a lot later in life.
The relationships in families are important ones to develop, as they are historical and personal. But, so often in families, there is a lack of communication and appreciation of differences, which is often the case in any relationship.
Today, while talking with this person and inquiring about his condition, I encouraged him to puruse his own course, as I believe that it is important for him to maintain his dignity, especially when his dignity is being physically challenged. It is important for there to be equal respect and honor concerning his "voice". It is de-meaning and de-morallizing to not have a voice about one's life in the first place, not to mention the struggle to grapple with the "what ifs". So, my suggestion to the family is to listen carefully in the midst of great concern, to listen for his voice. Ask questions about his wishes and honor them, as this will speak to him of our love and value of him as a person, in his own right.
Perhaps, because of my upbringing, it is very important to me that there be equal representation. Everyone in the family is important and valued, but different. These differences are to be applauded, challenged, and compromised or negotiated. We will many times disagree, but the important thing is to express our love and honor, as we all want to do.
Tonight, my family will meet, but I will not be there. A nephew, who is a physician, will ask, talk and listen and hopefully be able to come to some decisions about what are the wishes and desires of this important person in our lives. I wish I could be there. I will be in spirit. And my aunt made sure that my voice was heard, as she called to inform me. I appreciate that and her.
My personal reflection on this event has made it obvious that we will all see different moral imperatives. Wouldn't it be a shame if each one of us insisted that their view was the absolute moral imperative? Wouldn't that express the epitome of moral insensitivity and ethical impropriety? And how would that express what each of us desires most to do? Wouldn't it defeat the ultimate purpose we have about this important person, to be honored and cherished? I think so.
The Humanities in a Changing World
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