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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

It's a secret

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Privacy! That seems to be the operative word these days. We can't tell you what is wrong with someone or we would invade his privacy. Churches send out prayer lists but we don't know what we are praying for. Is she seriously ill, or is she facing making an important decision?

Pastors can't know who is in the hospital since the staff is no longer allowed to post a list by denominations so that the pastor can check on who might need attention. In the past a pastor could go to a desk in the hospital and quickly see who was admitted. Now, unless someone calls to inform the church, days can go by without a patient receiving visits from friends or the pastor.

Hurt feelings arise because it appears to the patient that no one cares. Without some heads up message, friends or church members cannot know who might need their concern. Doctors cannot tell even close friends that their friend is ill and could use some attention and concern.

Some of this can be remedied by the patient or family, telling the pastor, the doctor, or other personnel that it is OK to let others know about their condition. I remember times when meals coming to the house, or offers to help with the children were very helpful when a loved one in my family was ill and needed my attention. But it is hard to give that type of help if you are not aware of the need. With all the modern ways to communicate it seems that we really are knowing less and less about our neighbors.

In the past when we were on party lines it didn't take long for everyone on the line to know that there was illness in the Jones family. If they had preferred to keep a secret, it would have been very hard. So there are possible benefits from the Privacy Act. However, I want to be able to be helpful and the few times when we didn't want folks to know that there was a problem in our family don't negate the times when it was a blessing to have friends.

Most neighborhoods have at least one person who seems to know when there is a problem in someone's family. In my childhood it was Mrs. Horn who lived just north of our farm. She was somewhat physically handicapped so she sat in her chair where she could see two roads and could also reach her party line telephone. If we suspected there was some news in the Jones family, we could always call Mrs. Horn to get the full report. She did not live long enough to be aware of the new desire for keeping things private.

Although we joked about the situation, there were many times when we were pleased that she had told us that a certain woman needed some help, or that the children of another family had achieved a great honor. We could feel a part of everyone in the community.

Now the only time we get this type of news is through the newspaper and radio. Usually then, it is bad news such as a death or an arrest that gets publicized. Our local radio and paper are good to picture and report achievements of our youth. They also tell about neighborhood news in the community columns. However it is often too late for us to take any action.

Lester has been put on the prayer list because of the need for back surgery soon. The date has not been set yet but will probably be in the middle of May. I felt I must share this news after my complaints about the Privacy Act.

Mrs. Horn would be proud of me.

Carolyn Gray Thornton
Middle Age Plus