Is There Any Duty or Obligation in Progressive Thought?

In 1913 the most known President of Princeton University Thomas Woodrow Wilson was elected as the 28th President of the United States.  Arguably, the Wilson Administration was the most progressive president the country had ever seen. Those policies were the seeds planted in American culture needed some time to spout and begin to grow.

 The progressive movement did indeed grow and many of the ideas were finally began to bear fruit during the Franklin Roosevelt Administration in the 1930’s. It was Roosevelt who actually implemented many progressive theories into practice country-wide. One of the biggest policies which remain with us today is the implementation of Social Security in 1935.  

At the time, the argument for providing senior citizens a guaranteed monthly governmental payout was first described in quite emotional language. Messages around the country, focused primarily on hard luck stories and sympathy. They told the public there were many elderly citizens who did not have pensions from private companies and were without a means to support themselves when they could no longer work. They convinced lawmakers and the public those older people would literally starve to death. The law was a big hit and continues to be very popular to this day. For many of the elderly throughout the decades, Social Security has indeed been very helpful without the need of families to take on any responsibility for their support.  

Since Social Security seemed to work so well in thought and practice, it was inevitable another massive governmental program was born in 1965—Medicare, sister of Social Security.

The Unintended or Intended Consequences of Governmental Financial Influence

 Social Security and Medicare do help a lot of people live better lives, no question about it. However, there is a consequence which have been rarely discussed. For starters, Social Security has driven a wedge in the nuclear and extended family. Sons and daughters or other relatives no longer feel the duty nor obligation of taking care of their parents when they age because the government is doing the job.

In times past, the family unit which included the grandparents, parents and children made up the family. They worked together as family taking care of each generation and their particular needs. Those family members understood the obligation they had to their parents and other members in a way which is rarely seen today.  

For 60 or more years the rise in the number of patients being admitted to nursing homes has exponentially grown along with the increased construction of these institutions throughout the country. Many of the patients when admitted have very limited contact with their families, especially during the COVID era. The duty and obligation of children to their parents is transferred to nursing home personnel, as an expectation of payment.    

 More recently, the upsurge in adult communities has also grown nationwide. The mission of those communities is the same as a nursing environment with few exceptions. Human nature is human nature, if someone is willing do my work, even if the work is a duty to a parent, surely the work will be passed on.

much loss

What is sad about it all is there is so much loss. The elderly no longer has meaningful relationships with their own flesh and blood. It must take a toll on them. But the biggest loss is those who willing abdicate their duty and obligation.  What they are missing is the final moments of their parent’s life and all they could gain from those ending encounters. When the obligation is ignored, a great opportunity for charity and virtue is thrown away. It is sometimes difficult to minister with elderly parents, but the patience and love extended to them during these times not only makes a person more holy and fulfills the mandate of Christ. When we take care of the least among us, we actually take care of Christ.

What a great loss not to want to attend to Christ and his least.

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