The creative genius of George Washington Carver was not just in his astonishing research on peanuts. He knew the human spirit and the importance of community. Carver wrote, “How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday, in your life, you will have been all of these.” And another man of wisdom named Henri Nouwen said, “Community is first of all a quality of the heart. It grows from the spiritual knowledge that we are alive not for ourselves but for one another.” “Compassionate with the aged” and a sense of “community,” which means that we are “alive not for ourselves but for one another.”
This is the truth that needs to be spoken to the powers that be in Frederick County, as they have lost any compassion for the aged and a sense of the need for a community that has for 200 years prided itself as a caring place for Frederick County elderly in a place called Montevue. This isn’t about taxes too high for one of the richest counties in Maryland. This isn’t about cutting budgets and shrinking government — mere ploys for those who have a different agenda for the quality of life in Frederick County for the elderly.
If Carver were alive today and came to Frederick County, he would be shocked at the thought that there are those who are more interested in profiteering off the elderly than serving the needs of the elderly in our community. Why else would there be empty beds and rooms at Montevue that could be filled by needy citizens, but because it wouldn’t be profitable those beds remain empty? If Nouwen and his deep-seated Christian faith came to Frederick, he would probably stand before the powers that be and ask them if they truly believe in compassion and that we are alive “not for ourselves but for one another.” When are the citizens of Frederick County going to see what is happening and what is going to happen if Montevue and its historical mission of serving the needs of the elderly who would have no place to go would be lost in our community? We are the only county in Maryland that still provides this need for the elderly, to give them dignity and a “home” when there are no other homes. Throw them in nursing homes, no. Force them into homelessness, no. They paid taxes, they worked hard all their lives; they are not asking for a handout but merely the human compassion of a caring community that truly believes in the fact that “we are alive not for ourselves but for one another.”
Montevue has been a beautiful example of a caring compassionate community called Frederick County. Let’s not destroy that compassionate history by privatizing or literally committing the neediest in our elderly population to be the pawns of corporate profiteering and political manipulation. This battle is not over yet, and every concerned citizen of Frederick needs to understand what is at stake for Citizens and Montevue. The winds of change will come to Frederick County, either by the ballot box and the court or both. As Carver stated, “someday, in your life, you will have been all of these” — “tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, tolerant of the weak and strong.” How far you are depends on these qualities in order to truly be a community with a caring heart that puts people over profit.
The Rev. Dr. RAYMOND MORELAND