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But for the grace of God….

January 28, 2010

[yes, this is me holding a stick, yes, that’s a dead horse, and yes, I’m going to start beating it]

About a week ago, I posted this episode of the Daily Show on my FB:

Vodpod videos no longer available.
I watched in disbelief as they showed clips of blowhards spouting off about people getting what they deserve.  Then my heart welled with pride as Jon Stewart stuck it to them by quoting scriptures on compassion and mercy.   But then I thought, well, that’s just those crazies on tv, especially those assholes at FOX news, who think this way.  No one I know would think that way.  No doubt in my mind.  So, how shocked was I when I wrote an email to my mother, and said, doesn’t it make you feel horrible to complain about your life when they had it so hard BEFORE the earthquake?  And, she responded, yes, but even in the Bible horrible things happened during good and bad times, to good and bad people.  So, what does that mean, mom?  Because horrible things happened in the Bible, it’s no big deal?  Are you trying to rationalize it in a, oh-shit-happens kind of way?  Or are you just trying to stifle the feeling that we really have it TOO good?  Then I sit down with my older friend as she is watching the late night news a few days ago.  She makes the most ignorant, selfish comments (God is cursing them, etc., etc.) about the situation, then states well, we’ve done enough.  I feel my blood thickening and rising to my face as I respond to each comment.  Her comments anger me so much, I just want to leave.  Slam the door and leave.  But I sit there and swallow my rage.  It has bothered me since then.  I rehash the conversation and think, how could anyone feel that way?  How could anyone be so cold and hateful?
In the past few years, I’ve had experience with crisis.  Limited experience.  Never near death, never destitute.  But for me, it was enough to realize that life is up to chance.  No amount of good living, good choices, or positive thinking can save you when life decides to throw  you on your ass.  [Sidebar: the recent coup involving Conan O’Brien made me feel a hell of a lot better, because if someone with that much talent and respect can be fired, well, then I guess what happened to me wasn’t so bad.  And even he could only say, I’ve been so blessed, work hard and be kind.] Bottom line, life isn’t fair.   Social responsibility isn’t about being fair, it’s about being just and honorable.  So what if you’ve worked hard for your money and the person in need hasn’t?  Get over yourself, and hope someone takes compassion if/when crisis strikes you.   You think it’s not fair that someone with physical and/or mental handicaps gets a break while you have to bust your ass?  Well, how fair is it that you were born and have developed without a hitch — up to this point, mind you?  How fair is it that you were born in this country, instead of one that has poor political or economic conditions?  You are aware that you are one job loss, one car accident, one natural disaster, or one diagnosis of cancer away from being in the same boat as all those poor, homeless people you detest so much, right?  And if you really believe in reaping and sowing, karma, whatever, then get ready.  Remember the seven deadly sins?  Wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony?  Connect the dots.  As far as I see it, we’ll be needing the compassion and mercy more than could be imagined.
I believe in practicing social responsibility.  I believe that we should try to understand our privilege and strive to level the playing field accordingly.  I believe in exercising compassion and mercy while I can in hopes that the next time I’m down on my luck, someone will return the favor.   
Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:  Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.  Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?  When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?  Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:  For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:  I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.  Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?  Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.  And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.    Matthew 25:34-46


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