May 4, 2012

A friend who dies; it’s something of you who dies.

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 3:58 pm by Editorial Team

~ Gustave Flaubert

I have rarely felt that the work I do could be anything related to palliative or hospice care.  For the majority of people I serve, they improve, they move on with their life.  But this year, two of my tenants have passed away.  Both had major physical health problems, in addition to battling mental illness.  Both were no longer homeless.  Today, I discovered the bad news that the second one had passed, not less than three months after the first.  Their loss bring me sadness.  As a human race, regardless of religious creed, we have failed ourselves in some way.

I am grateful that they died in their apartment, rather than on the streets.  I am grateful to work alongside and for wonderful people.  But I wish they did not have to die in such a way.

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October 12, 2009

Life is Not Fair

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , at 10:18 am by Editorial Team

Being the youngest in the family and growing up with two older brothers, I found myself on the short end of the stick many times. Of all of the phrases I heard growing up, “Life is not fair” was the mantra I heard the most. It seemed I always got the short end, the leftovers, the most beat up after a brawl. Looking up to older brothers who it seemed could always get away with more and have more responsibilities than I ever would.   And I remember the frequent refrain and it’s response… it’s not fair… Life is not fair.  And I would sometimes angrily shout back “Well, then make it fair.”

Looking back, I can honestly say that my life was not fair. I was a white, middle-class kid with two loving parents. I had amazing opportunities, and was never in need (often in want, but never need). I had more privilege than you could shake a stick at.

Life was good, but it wasn’t fair.  I see the people around me, and because of their lives, I realize how unfair my life was… how things far beyond my control gave me enormous opportunity and privilege which most of the people around me do not have.

For the child who’s primary notion of food is White Castle, who’s mother works multiple jobs and has little time with him, who has little knowledge of a father figure of his own race, who lives on the wrong side of town, who goes to a poorly performing school and has few support systems, and who will likely face a lifetime of racism, both institutionalized and direct.  My life is not fair, because this child’s is not fair.

And the rally cry reverberates:  Well, then make it fair.  Perhaps the mantra of “life is not fair” is intended to preserve the existing social order.  If it is, then we must challenge that foundation of power.  The kingdom of God ushers in a way of life which is fair.  The high, the privileged, the powerful are brought down, either voluntarily or eventually through Christ’s return.  The low, the powerless, are brought up.  The kingdom brings equality to all.  We who are powerful in the world’s eyes must yield, instead humbling ourselves in submission to those who are suffering and powerless.

As long as we accept the world’s standard of  power and social order, life is not fair.  But we live in a kingdom where life is fair, where equality rules.  Where is neither black nor white, rich nor poor, married nor single, male nor female.  The current social order is obliterated in the kingdom.  Yet, we do not fully live in the kingdom, but also under the prince of darkness.

Because we still live in darkness, we must take corrective action to reflect the notion of the true kingdom.  For the rich, the white, the powerful, it involves explicit action to yield power, status, and wealth.  For the poor, the powerless, those low on the social ladder, it means elevating people to these positions of status, wealth, and power.

The last shall be first, and the first shall be last.

Go sell all your possessions, and give them to the poor, and come follow me.

Son, remember in your lifetime, you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.

I was hungry, and you gave me nothing to eat…

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Life is not fair.  In Christ, it has been made fair.  However, this fairness is not effortless.  The kingdom calls us to action, to a lifestyle of humility and fairness.  If we fail in these actions, we fail the primary call of gospel and the kingdom.  We proclaim a new kingdom which was proclaimed to all of creation through the death and resurrection of Christ.  God is bringing justice to his creation.  If we do not labor for justice, then perhaps we are not truly part of the kingdom.  Life is not fair, until we humble ourselves, and yield our lives, our pride, and our wealth, to the call of the kingdom.