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Human Rights Are About Ensuring Human Dignity

handsWe saw the despicable decision, made earlier this week, in the case of an elderly couple in their mid to late 80’s, who had applied as a couple for the Fair Deal Scheme. It was decided that the couple should be separated for the first time, after 63 years of marriage together.

This decision was taken by one or more over paid bureaucrats in the employment of the Health Service Executive (HSE), devoid of Christianity and ignorant of the very notion of human rights.  It would appear that the press together with TV and Radio coverage, are now essential in order to gain some small modicum of social justice in this country.

Living, as I once believed, in a mainly Christian country; this couple’s particular plight, brought about by these thoughtless individuals, reminded me of the following poem:-

“An Old Lady’s Poem”

(The original author of this poem is unknown.)

What do you see, nurses, what do you see?
What are you thinking when you’re looking at me?
A crabby old woman, not very wise,
Uncertain of habit, with faraway eyes?

Who dribbles her food and makes no reply
When you say in a loud voice, “I do wish you’d try!”
Who seems not to notice the things that you do,
And forever is losing a stocking or shoe.

Who, resisting or not, lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill.
Is that what you’re thinking? Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse; you’re not looking at me.

I’ll tell you who I am, as I sit here so still,
As I do your bidding, as I eat at your will.
I’m a small child of ten, with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters, who love one another.

A young girl of sixteen, with wings on her feet,
Dreaming that soon now a lover she’ll meet.
A bride soon at twenty, my heart gives a leap,
Remembering the vows that I promised to keep.

At twenty-five now, I have young of my own,
Who need me to guide them in a secure happy home.
A woman of thirty; my young now growing fast,
Bound to each other with ties that should last.

At forty, my young sons have grown and are gone,
But my man is beside me to see I don’t mourn.
At fifty once more, babies play round my knee,
Again, we know children, my loved one and me.

Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead;
I look at the future, I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing young of their own,
And I think of the years and the love that I’ve known.

I’m now an old woman, and nature is cruel;
It is jest to make old age look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles, grace and vigour depart,
There is now a stone, where once was a heart.

But inside this old carcass a young girl still dwells,
And now and again my battered heart swells.
I remember the joys, I remember the pain,
And I’m loving and living life over again.

I think of the years, all too few, gone so fast,
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.
So, open your eyes people, open and see
Not a crabby old woman; look closer, see me.

Human rights are, after all, about safeguarding human dignity, as opposed to just catering for human need, and therefore must embody Christian standards, when decisions regarding old people are to be determined.

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