A pastor I know gave a really good talk last week about greed and much simplified, the essence was that greed is simply wanting more than your portion, more than your allotment. It was a fabulous talk, but it got me thinking which is always a dangerous thing, indeed.
That’s all well and good under “normal situations,” like I envy my neighbor’s new car. It’s a whole other ball of wax when your “portion” seems to mean not being able to feed your kids five days a month while your neighbor is busy enjoying his new car. It’s a whole new ball game when the company you work for goes bankrupt and your paychecks start bouncing. You have a raging tooth infection and you can’t afford to go to a dentist. You drive on side streets because you can’t afford car insurance and new license plates. You get laid off from your job and the judge sends you to jail for not paying your child support.
Poverty is not a simple case of “they made bad choices and I didn’t.” It can involve some real learned helplessness and a system that seems as if it is rigged against you. Often it is exactly that, rigged against you. And so, the seeds of social justice are sown and begin to find fertile ground.
Someone smart once told me, “when the peasants are revolting, the peasants start revolting.” I’m not surprised by the chaos in our culture, by the collateral damage all around, by the way it often feels as we’re sitting on a powder keg or about to go off a cliff. I’m surprised by the lack of awareness and the hard hearts I encounter sometimes. It surprises me when people don’t seem to be aware of the opiate epidemic in our country or the skyrocketing suicide rates, or the fact that cops actually do over react these days and shoot people who probably don’t pose a huge threat.
Yesterday the Seattle cops shot and killed a 30 yr old pregnant mom with four kids in front of her children. She had a criminal record, mental health issues, and was struggling to raise four kids alone, one who is disabled. She was a woman crying out for help who wasn’t heard. This state is absolutely horrific with mental health issues. Some studies have suggested we rank 48th in the nation. You see evidence of this when you read about people who have a history of mental health problems. That means someone has had multiple contacts with the system, each one a cry for help. We failed this woman by sending her home to try to raise four kids alone, one disabled, while pregnant with another, a woman who simply broke. Than we shot her.
I get so frustrated sometimes with the sheer indifference some people seem to have towards the suffering going on all around them. Often it’s the indifference of Christian people. That’s a bitter pill to swallow. I don’t choke it down so well.
Charleena Lyles got more than her portion, more than her allotment of our complete indifference and it cost her her life.