|First light in the Grand Canyon|
This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear. 1 John 3:16-17 Translation from The Message Bible Daily Lectionary ReadingsAt its core, the Christian message is simple. If I have means and advantages and I see others in need because they do not have those, I am called to compassion and appropriate action. If I do not, then the love of God disappears from my life because I have closed my self to the Divine's One unending offer of love and life. This seems straightforward enough when it comes to those caught in poverty or discrimination. But what about those who are called "the left behind?"
These are the people whose education, skills, and opportunities have not prepared them for the economic realities of the 21st century in America. They are the ones who assumed that manufacturing jobs would be there for them as they were for their parents and grandparents and now find that the global economy has shifted those jobs beyond their reach. They have consolidated their isolation and desperation into a political voice that has elected a President who promises a return to the way things used to be and who has demonized migrants and those who are not "real Americans" as the scapegoats for these difficulties.
As someone who came from a lower middle class working family, I find anger rising in me. My father made clear to me and my siblings that we were going to college so we would be better off than he was. He harbored no illusions that we, especially his sons, should follow his steps into a well paying job as a mechanic in the local electric utility. H and my mother sacrificed to send us to excellent high schools and then on to college. It was not easy for them but they understood what they wanted for their children. I honestly feel resentment toward those who had the same opportunities open to them but who failed to take advantage of them and I specifically mean white males. (Being female or African American meant that you did not have the same opportunities.) I feel resentment when they and their children now demand special accommodations because the world didn't turn out the way they anticipated or hoped it would. I get particularly upset when they blame the very people who did not these same opportunities: African-Americans, women, and more recently Latinos.
And yet, my Christian faith calls me to compassion not anger or resentment. I continue to struggle with this.