The title of this blog is an exerpt from an inscription on the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled massed.”…..
I hope I quoted that correctly. But I think its close enough that the reader will get my point. News has reached me lately of people denyed a visa to visit the United States on the grounds that they are too poor. Some of the stories are heart breaking. The need for surgery for example. I never in all my days, as my Mom is fond of saying, would I have thought I’d hear of such a thing. The reason for the rejection? They might stay. Disappear into the crowd. Illegal imigration. It occurs to me what a bunch of play it safers and fraidy cats inhabit this country. Not to mention the vast ocean of selfishness that drowns the hearts of many.
What would the state of some be if this mentality was prevailent during the Nazi occupation of Europe or the great patato famine? I have heard that many Jews were turn away as they sought asylum in the U.S.. This most regretable. Is national security a greater priority than human need? This “nation under God” as it says in the Gettysburg address and the Pledge of Allegance certainly seems to be at odds with the love and mercy shown to it by God. I believe Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said that any country that spends more on its defense budget than it does on its social programs is headed for moral collapse. Is this not the state of things today? By the way he was accused of being a communist and was being investigated by the FBI for making such statments. He had some corresponding points to make about the war in Vietnam also. I think it had to do with the disproportionate number of minorities and economically disadvantaged trudging through the rice paddies of southeast Asia. While I’m grateful for, and admire their sacrifice the numbers don’t lie.
In reality I really shoudn’t be too surprised that the things I’ve mentioned above are happening and have happened. America doesn’t have a very good track record with its own poor so why sould it be expected to relieve the suffering of a few others? Yes there are social programs here and abroad but many have solved on problem and created another. My rub is just this: Legislators and citizens alike bemoan the yearly waste of money and a mounting deficit, (Trillions now is it?) while the needs of the desparately impoverished continue to go unmet for fear of irresponsible spending. In the scriptures God rebuked the people for spending their money on themselves rather than on his house. Did he not say that pure and undefiled religion is to take care of the widow and orphan in their distress and to keep oneself unspotted from the world? How in the world (literally) would any country consider America to be a great benefactor when it spends more on weapons than humanitarian aid. No, I’m not saying that America never helps anyone. I’m saying its more motivated by fear than by love. (Or is it just the fear of losing money?) The fear of what might happen if the down trodden and impoverished gain access to the coffers of society. The war isn’t against the tyranny of various politicos and religious extremes. The war is against fear and hate. The weapon that takes those enemies down is love.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that there aren’t some wars that need to be fought, or that a nation doesn’t need to be prepared to defend against enemies foreign and domestic. But I am saying that the more a nation practices caring for the needs of its citizens and the needs of its neighbors the less likely there’ll be enemies to fight. Because it will be surrounded by grateful friends. We don’t need a change of policy folks, we need changed hearts. You have to ask: Does a family of four really need a 5000 square foot house? Or does a person really need two or three houses. Communism gets a foot hold because the haves aren’t taking care of the have not. Leo Tolstoy, an aristocrat in pre-communist Russia, saw himself a contributer to the poverty problem that plagued his country. He then began to take steps to become a part of the solution. As a friend of mine puts at the end of his text messages: “Practice kindness.” Even so come quickly Lord Jesus! Let us work to hasten the day of the Lord and to prepare a highway for his feet to trod in the hearts of the righteous. Let us give ourselves to ministering his love to those around us who are in distress in the knowledge that it is infectious.