Wednesday, December 12, 2012
"Radical hospitality" means sacrifice, even to help those who didn't do the right things
I’ll have to carry on yesterday’s post about volunteerism with a note about Michelle Singletary’s column on p. A15 of The Washington Post today, “Doing the right thing, even for those who didn’t”. Online the title is “We are our brother’s keepers” (and sister's), link here. Life is about a lot more than "fairness", she says.
This one is worth a real debate. Michelle describes a letter from a woman whose sibling became homeless after Hurricane Sandy (living somewhere in coastal New Jersey or Long Island) and wants help. But the sibling had behave foolishly, financially speaking ,and had not insured the property for floods, etc. The woman would have to sacrifice paying for her own kids’ education to help the siblings; kids – challenging the idea that we should be absolutely responsible for our own kids, if we had them – but then there’s “Raising Helen”, isn’t there!
Michelle takes the compassionate position, much more collective in principle. It’s almost Biblical. I’d love to see opposing or at least developmental viewpoints on this one, maybe from Cheryl Wetzstein of the Washington Times.
I have to say, that as somewhat a “singleton” and socially isolated (to the dismay of Mehmet Oz), I’ve had to be very careful all my life about making “mistakes”. I don’t make as many as people who have more social capital to fall back on. And the problem is, if I had to “sacrifice” here, I’d never amount to anything, "on my own". I can't tolerate letting others toy with my life (especially the GOP).
But as we saw from yesterday’s post, even people who did the right things in that area are having a hard time. Both corporate and governmental bureaucracy seems not to be working (note the NBC news story late yesterday on FEMA trailers). The LDS Church, for example, has a very good record of taking care of its own, and taking care of others after disasters -0 look at how much LDS chipped in after Katrina.
There’s something else about the “radical hospitality” issue. A singleton like me could be forced into sharing his life with others, regardless of making good choices. That’s a good secondary reason for “family values”. Not all moral obligations are just about consequences of choices; values when totaled have a bit effect on people, especially those who do need more help (and sometimes those individuals will give up on the idea of law and order altogether because it never "worked" for them). That gets much harder for someone who stayed out of the game entirely for years because of earlier social humiliation.