Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Golden Rule or WWJD?

Does our state government follow the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you? Do we want to give our state legislators the power to tell women what kinds of decisions they, their families and doctors can make about their health care decisions? How about when the governor and legislature turn down billions of federal dollars to fund healthcare for Tennessee’s poorest citizens? 

If these elected officials are Christian, is this more recent adage appropriate: “What would Jesus do (WWJD)?”  If a child happens by chance to be born into a poor family, their chance of thriving and succeeding in life is not equal to that of the privileged few.  Their health is impacted negatively, their educational functioning is threatened, and their spirits are broken.  Would Jesus condemn them, call them lazy, ”takers,” and shame them for not working hard enough? Some politicians complain about dependency on governmental handouts, but they also don’t increase the minimum wage.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you don’t like being bullied, don’t bully others.  That seems simple enough but there sure are a lot of adults running this country who don’t seem to act in that way.  Our leaders may try to represent us, but their main job function is to raise money in order to get re-elected.

This is a racial and classist issue, this is about income inequality. If a child doesn’t have enough food to eat, a safe bed to sleep in, some good parenting and hope, how will that child be able to learn well, to succeed in our world?  A white upper middle class child who had the good fortune to be born into a privileged family has a far better chance of succeeding.  Their family provides for their physical needs, gets them tutors if they have trouble learning, and gives them financial support for extracurricular activities and for college.

Some people say that they have succeeded all on their own with no help from others, and they sometimes judge others harshly for not doing the same.  I hope that those people look around at all the services available to them through tax payers’ support of education, libraries, fire and police departments, transportation systems, justice centers, and more.  We all use these systems and their services. It is a ridiculous statement for anyone to say that they succeeded all by themselves.

What would Jesus do?  Would he punish the downtrodden, send little children into the urban wilderness without guidance and support?  No, he would love them, seek to help them, heal the sick, and comfort those who are distressed.  Some people preach about their faith in Jesus and then act in opposite ways to his teachings. How can this be a practice of good Christianity, or an attempt to follow the Golden Rule?

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