Recently a woman who has been a part of a small Tennessee community for most of her life died. She was at various times during her life a daughter, a girl scout, a student, a beauty queen, a wife and mother. She had many friends and acquaintances in that little town through those years.
In the last few months, one friend in particular was faithful to take her food and necessities. Just before her death, the City's utility department disconnected utilities to her home. Temperatures reached the low 100s during that time. How, in a small town where everyone is connected to someone and there were many who knew of her weakened condition, did something like this occur? With all the town’s churches within a stone’s throw of her location, full of faithful Christians, where was even one Good Samaritan who questioned doing this procedure, much less carrying it out with no attempt to contact someone who could verify that this woman was still capable of taking care of herself, or able to conduct business at all?
The Bible instructs us to take care of our own, to treat others with the same consideration we would ourselves want to receive. This woman would not, at this point in her life, have been able to generate new industry in her town, nor would she have been able to grab a headline, or create good publicity or more income for the city. Her life had become simple and reclusive, and according to several people with whom she personally communicated over the past few months, she was honestly confused as to how that happened. In short, help was drastically needed for her.
As this particular small town readies to celebrate its 100 year anniversary, perhaps a thought or two might be in order as to what it truly means to be aware – of its citizens, its responsibilities, the full, basic reason any community continues to exist in the first place. Procedural process is necessary within any infrastructure, it is understandable and essential. Application of rule without consideration of a human aspect, a moral evaluation, becomes at best mindless and at worst predatory.
While those around her went home each day to a cool, comfortable haven, this forgotten citizen perished – in deadly heat, without water, ignored and brushed off by the community in which she had spent most of her life. We are responsible for each other. This death surely will touch the hearts and minds of those who truly understand what has just happened. When officials of any entity remove themselves from remaining solidly in touch with those they are privileged to govern, disaster is imminent. No amount of applied authority can, or ever will, eliminate moral duty.