Carol Silver Elliott

Beneath the Surface

Yesterday my husband presented me with a surprise gift—a bathroom scale! You may think that sounds like a strange gift but it really was not, it was a thoughtful present that, once again, shows me how tuned in my husband is to me. I am one of those people who lives by her daily weigh in and, I confess, the numbers on the scale impact my mood as the day begins.When the scale and I are in less than perfect harmony, I mutter about needing a new scale. And I often do just that, even though I am well aware that the scale is the innocent victim in this situation.

I had recently seen an article about a scale that was loaded with all kinds of features. In fact, it has so many bells and whistles that I am surprised it actually gives you your weight. You can do an ECG, you can test your circulatory system and you can even measure various aspects of your body separately. The list goes on. This is high level technology that now graces my bathroom floor and, of course, an app on my phone.

It’s a funny thing to think that, in just seconds, I can stand on this device, hold onto the bar with the electrodes, and know things that are taking place in my body.  These are things I can’t see and wouldn’t know but now, through the miracle of technology, I do. It’s amazing and a bit disconcerting all at once—are there things I would be better off not knowing? Are there things that I might learn that will only be an issue because I know about them?

As I reflected on this, I remembered the words a physician said to me once. He told me that if you looked inside anyone’s body, you would find things that could be “fixed,” or that were “wrong” but that were not, for that person, issues in need of addressing. These “flaws” all worked just fine for that individual and were part of the unique makeup of that person.

As with all things right now, the context quickly became the world in which we are living, the world in which babies and elders have become hostages, the world in which terror and hostility continue unabated, the world in which none of us can ever take our safety for granted. Ever.

Yet, looking inside these bodies we each inhabit would yield a view of the same bones and muscles, the same blood vessels and organs, the same arrangement of physical elements that comprise a human being. We are the same. We are minds and bodies and spirits. And all that which tears us apart, which breeds fear and hatred, is not intrinsic to us, not natural. It is man-made, the product of disturbed thinking, of conflicted history, of desires for power and control and dominance.

How have we forgotten that each of us is the same? More importantly, how do we remember it? How do we recreate a world in which every life is of value, every life is sacred, every being deserves dignity and safety and peace. How do we find our way back to our essential humanity and remember that this is all that we truly have—and remember that it is, and will always be, sacred.

About the Author
Carol Silver Elliott is President and CEO of The Jewish Home Family, which runs NJ's Jewish Home at Rockleigh, Jewish Home Assisted Living, Jewish Home Foundation and Jewish Home at Home. She joined The Jewish Home Family in 2014. Previously, she served as President and CEO of Cedar Village Retirement Community in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is past chair of LeadingAge and the Association of Jewish Aging Services.
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