I believe that it's God's intention that we seek justice in the world we live in, that we care for others—by any and every means available—especially for the poor and disadvantaged, not just to give them handouts, but to respect them, to value and listen to and learn from them, to empower them. I believe that the heart of God longs for justice, and that it is God who places that same longing in our hearts. I believe that if we really want to know Jesus, we will find him among the poor and the disenfranchised rather than among the wealthy and powerful.
The view that Jesus would have us merely protect our own and distance ourselves from whoever we consider "other" is deeply disturbing. Certainly we should take responsibility for ourselves and for our families. But is that really enough? "If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors [the universally despised scumbags of their day] doing that?" (Matthew 5:46-47). Of course, we should love and care for and protect our own families insofar as we're able. But doing so does not in any way preclude or excuse us from loving and caring for and protecting others.
There seems to be an exaltation of the idea of "personal responsibility" that justifies dismantling the systems we have put in place to care for ourselves, our families, and each other. If natural disaster strips you of your home and all your possessions, have you failed in your "personal responsibility"? If medical bills impoverish you and your family, should the rest of us turn our backs on you and just expect you to "pull yourself up by your bootstraps"?
The callous disregard for others demonstrated at the last two Republican debates is profoundly alarming. The question Wolf Blitzer asked Ron Paul at this week's debate was in reference to a theoretical person who simply chose not buy health insurance. But are those without health insurance in this country uninsured just because of a simple miscalculation of the risk involved? Unfortunately the real question involves real people in tragic and heartbreaking circumstances.
In the story of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4), Cain asks, "Am I my brother's keeper?" after he'd already killed Abel. When we callously allow our brothers and sisters to die—for lack of insurance or a flawed trigger-happy judicial system—their blood cries out to God from the ground, just as Abel's did.
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