The Helpless

A difficult topic

3 minute read

I have avoided writing about this topic for really long primarily because I don’t believe I have the wisdom to form an opinion, the ability to elucidate my uncertainties, or the sensitivity to question without offence. But it is a gaping hole in my thoughts that weighs heavily upon me every time I pay it the slightest attention.

What follows is not going to lead to an answer. I don’t know if there is an answer.

While waiting to switch flights in Chicago I saw a couple feed and converse as much as they could with their developmentally challenged daughter. They didn’t seem weary, they had a smile on their faces and the patience they showed, pardon my use of a meme, restored my faith in humanity.

I have a cousin who is developmentally challenged badly enough that he will have to be cared for his whole life. I saw my family show such unconditional love and patience and hope, and I saw others show disregard, resignation, as they distanced themselves from this burden. This situation made me question myself, what would I do if I had to care for someone’s every need, what would I do if I had to be cared for day and night?

Thinking about this makes me feel guilty. How can I go about my life indulging in whatever I want, trying to achieve something when I have not answered these questions? What will it even mean if I am unable to fill in the holes?

A lame deer, a less than intelligent tiger or a bird with a limp wing will not survive in the wild. To be less than capable of completely caring for yourself is a death sentence. Humanity transcends this. We care for our weak, our helpless, the ones who wouldn’t survive in the wild. To see people who care without ask, help people who can give nothing back, spread love and smiles to those who can’t help themselves, it makes me question every single one of my actions, fills me with hope and with despair.

Can I get angry with those who recuse themselves from the responsibility of caring for the helpless? They made a call that is right for them, to not take on something they can’t or won’t handle. Does that make them bad people? If not does taking on the responsibility of caring for someone their whole lives make a person a good person? Does questioning it make me a bad person?

What complicates this question is that it can be extended to the old, the unfortunate who have bad turns of fate. I could not imagine attempting to lead my life if my parents needed my care. As for everyone else, I do not know. I do not think I will know until the situation is thrust upon me, even then I can only be certain that I will have moments of uncertainty.

I do know the answer to the question on the other side. If I am ever in a situation where I can’t fend for myself, I want to go the way of the lame deer or the limp bird. This leads to some rather interesting fears - and hopefully interesting articles.