We have now endured the recent campaign and election of Donald Trump to the Presidency with an overdose of racial innuendo that has embolden many to feel at ease with expressing hatred and violence toward ‘different’ people. The most troubling for the nation has been the blatant expression and execution of policies that show little to no sensitivity to the plight of those living below the poverty level or living under fear of expulsion from the country for the smallest infraction of immigration laws. Families that have lived here for decades are being targeted for arrest and deportation. Family businesses are being broken apart because of the status of workers that fall between the cracks of immigration law.
It is troubling to insist on following the letter of the law without little or no compassion being considered. Do we not care how policies affect others whose lives have meaning just as those whose circumstances and situations are protected by the law? Are not parents important to their children who were born here but must watch as they are torn from the family and carried away because their papers are not in order?
One of our distinguishable qualities that has drawn people from all over the world to these hallowed shores has been the feelings of caring concern for others. Immigrants have left all to make their way here because America is known for caring about its people. Though imperfect, it was the best chance for opportunity for anyone.
Jesus spoke of a time when the ‘love of many would grow wax cold.’ In my youth, I wondered how that could be? Especially for the church of which He spoke in His prophecies for the end times. But, that has become our reality as people have little reluctance to make it known that they don’t want their tax money paying for children’s school lunches or for other funding for social programs to assist those living at or below poverty. At the same time, many of these same people have no problem demanding the repeal of Roe vs. Wade to correct abortions on demand in this country. Of course, I am not an advocate for abortions! I only mention it to point out the double standard for caring about the unborn while at the same time showing contempt and objection to helping children that are successfully delivered into a system of poverty.
I wonder where has compassion gone. My concern is directed to those of us which call ourselves followers of Jesus Christ, who Himself spent the better part of His time among the broken, downtrodden, sick, and those in need of interventions of all kinds. Surely we cannot ignore His desire to feed the hungry, heal the sick, give sight to the blind! How is it possible to look past those around us in need to view the face of God?
And generally, we may be able to hide ourselves among the crowds who espouse insensitivity and a callous view of those in need. But individually, what messages are we believing or what deception is taking place among us individually as we look past those in need. They’re everywhere . . . sleeping under bridges, begging in the streets, overflowing our communities’ food pantries and clothes outlets, social agencies that are inundated with applications and cases needing to intervention with poverty’s affect upon the masses.
The Prophet Jeremiah laments the cold and insensitive response of the public: “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow, which was brought upon me, which the Lord inflicted on the day of His fierce anger.” Lamentations 1:12 ESV
We must check ourselves when we can look upon the destitute with no feeling. When we no longer care about others, we lose a sense of our own humanity. Humanity’s mistreatment of humanity is the result of a disconnect from our Creator and from each other. We lose meaning in life when we don’t care; respect for self is brought low to allow dysfunction and profound expression of our imperfections. When we no longer care, we devalue life and its meaning for ourselves and others. Our lusts become our obsessions at all costs without thought of others left out and left alone. We become a nation which cannot settle for a piece of the pie, we must have the whole pie.
When we no longer have compassion, our religion becomes self-centered to revolve around our own values with little allegiance to our God. Narcissistic attitudes are accepted as normal and religion become mere rituals. Apostasy becomes the order of the day with little concern for submission to God to live out His purposes in the earth.
Charles M. Blow’s historical synopsis of the slow demise of compassion in America serves up an indictment for those of us who have become insensitive to the needs of others. It is time for us to do some soul searching, not for political ideologies or conservative or liberal thought. We must ask ourselves some hard questions about how much we care for others and what are we willing to do to improve the quality of life for others. It’s an old question, which, when first uttered, was not dignified by God. Its relevance to our present reality is stunning: “Am I my brother’s keeper.” Cain thought it a reasonable question, painstakingly piercing considering how he’d killed his brother because of the malice in his own heart. Are we any different when we care little whether our brothers and sisters in our communities die from gun violence that is generated by guns and ammunition thrust in the hands of impoverished youth living under the harshest realities of poverty? Jobs that can support families are not to be had and the education system has given up on many who do not fit in to the production line mentality used in schools.
Our answers are not with politicians who are grasping for all that they can get. So-called community leaders, in many cases, are willing to sell to the highest bidder at the expense of those needing help. The poor end up being preyed upon by many that are really charged with helping them. The answer must come from those who ‘care’ from the heart and are willing to make the sacrifice needed to make the less fortunate a priority in service. Addressing the problems with words is not the answer. Some hands must be offered to help those trying to get up. Some resources will have to be shared and offered to the needy. Quality time must be invested with people to listen to hear their hearts and respond to their cries. Someone has to be willing to go beyond throwing money at people and be willing to empathize with them to reach out with help from caring and compassionate hearts.
This isn’t liberalism that I speak of . . . this is compassion. This is caring from the heart about something or someone other than self.
Perhaps its time to think about where my personal compassion has gone . . . before it’s too late for them and ourselves.