Thursday, January 27, 2011

Filling the Gaps

Somewhere, at this very moment, a young woman is giving birth to a child. She is not from here, and she made the decision to sneak across the border to have her baby in this country. Did she become pregnant at the hands of a family member, only to find herself shunned by the rest of her family? Was she impregnated by a man who purchased her from another? Did she give herself over to a boy, desperate to feel as if she mattered to someone, even for just a little while?

Somewhere, at this very moment, a haggard looking fellow is wobbling towards a car, his outstretched hand brushing against the driver's window. Did he suffer a stroke? Did he part ways with reality during a personal trauma? Did he finally decide that alcohol is more reliable than most people?

Think these are highly unlikely scenarios? Although they are probably not as unlikely as you might think, that is not really the point. The point is that we don't know everyone's story. We will never know. And maybe we don't need to. The Bible says some pretty clear things about looking after "the least of these." It also says a few things about judging. Interestingly, the Bible does not instruct us to only give to those we have judged and deemed deserving.

I've been reading and hearing a lot of discourse lately on the evil nature of our current government. Folks seem to believe that they deserve better treatment than they are getting from our national leaders. Folks also forget that being born here doesn't make them deserving. We receive blessings in this country without having earned them, in other words.

I find it fascinating that a number of the individuals sharing their opinions receive assistance from some government-funded program (I only know this because they have told me). When I think about it, it occurs to me that hardly anyone can say they've never benefitted from government funding. If you attended a public school or drove over a bridge, you were the beneficiary of government spending.

I certainly do not know the answer to our nation's problems. I am neither an economist nor a politician. I am a human. And I am rather grateful that I live in a country in which the government attempts, in its awkward way, to honor the dignity of its human inhabitants by shrinking the gap between the "haves" and the "have nots" and filling those gaps when it can. We as individuals haven't always done a great job of taking care of that.

I am also somewhat worried about living in a country in which government makes no attempt to protect the dignity of its citizens. Because those entities that would happily take our money in exchange for their services might just forget about humanity as they look over their monthly spreadsheets. And this human doesn't want to be overlooked.

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