Friday, February 18, 2011

We are family

Through the years, I've noticed how families will sacrifice deeply for their most vulnerable members. Parents will forego every luxury to care for a disabled child into adulthood. Children will put their lives on hold to care for ill, elderly parents. Grandparents regularly give up their golden years to take in young grandchildren whose parents can't or won't care for them.

That's what we do in families. But as a state, as a nation, as a society, we apparently don't share that same commitment. Instead, when it's time to sacrifice, we ask the most vulnerable among us to sacrifice first. The wealthy among us refuse to contribute at the rate they did during the Reagan administration, demanding ongoing and increasing tax cuts. The powerful among us continue to spout partisan sound bites to protect their special interests while demanding that others bear the burden of sacrifice. And the rest of us let it happen .

And so, as we are facing the necessity of budget cuts--and no one disputes the necessity of budget cuts-what do we propose to cut first? On the state level, it's the mentally disabled adult in a group home or the uninsured handicapped child who is asked to sacrifice first. On the national level, it's families without health insurance and women and children who lack the basic necessities of life.

Meanwhile, the rights of the unborn are receiving a great deal of attention (as they should), while the needs of the already born are minimized. The battle cry is "personal responsibility!" Yet, how is an elderly man whose savings have run out due to the unforeseen cost of a nursing home supposed to take personal responsibility? How about a mentally retarded middle aged woman whose group home is the only home she has known since she left her parents' home? How about a preschooler with cystic fibrosis with loving parents who could never cover the cost of lifesaving drugs?

I long for us to remember that we are a family. I pray for the growing realization that if we don't take care of the most vulnerable among us, we have failed our values and our God. I hope that we will decide to share the burden--all of us together, contributing what we can--to create safety nets (yes, even government safety nets) for those who otherwise have none.

1 comment:

janet said...

sounds like a great editorial.