The Least of These

November 6, 2008

This morning before work I stumbled a cross a blog by the Jeffrey Hollender, founder of Seventh Generation and maker of eco-friendly household products. His post was optimistic about the economy, and I might decide to read a few of his other posts. However, what struck me most was a comment posted a few weeks ago by another reader. I’ve copied and pasted it here:

My local newspaper just published the letter I sent to editor:

Posted by denay | Wed, Oct. 22, 2008

Albany-Democrat Herald, Editor’s Mailbag (Oct. 15)

“How Bailout Looks from Here”

In April of this year I obtained a part-time employment doing caregiving. This bumped me up to earning a whopping $472.76, $76.66 of which is reimbursement for petrol already spent, per month. Out of this actual $400 per month I am attempting to do the impossible: support myself and my adult disabled son.

Imagine my delight when I received in the mail a notice that 1) the Oregon Trail card which is my only source of obtaining food will be reduced in amount (apparently, the vast resource I am now earning renders me less likely to need sustenance) and 2) I either come up with $15 per month to pay for the OHP (which is bare bones medical insurance) or survive with absolutely no health coverage at all. 3) I did apply to try to get the economic stimulus payment but since neither my son nor myself had made any money, so did not deserve to get any.

“Those who have nothing shall have even less” gave the “kick’em when they’re down” policy new meaning.

I have been trying for eight years now (first applied in 2000) to get help from the Social Security administration for my disabled son. The frustration, hopelessness and despair of enduring this for all these years feels much like a nightmare, truly Kafkaesque and there is no end in sight!

Imagine if you will how someone in our situation feels when we hear that the government will be giving mega amounts of money to corporations and to those who couldn’t even imagine the extreme poverty which we are trying to survive under day after day.

I challenge any of these people who are whining about their reduced economic situation to come and experience actual homelessness, which is a realistic outcome for both of us unless some help is rendered. Ironically, neither of us is in this dire situation as a result of apathy, mindless consumption, abuse of credit cards, addictions, criminal behavior, lack of critical thinking or stealing from others!

A society which becomes inimical to the health, welfare and even survival of its citizens — the children, elders and those not able to care for themselves — is likely scheduled to fragment. The justification for billions of dollars being used for the Monopoly games of the rich while the poorest and most needy get nothing is a travesty.

Demelza Costa, Sweet Home

This post left me deep in thought as I got ready for work this morning. Chris and I are probably middle class, maybe lower middle class. We stress about money, especially with the launch of his business, but we’re very blessed. We don’t have to worry (not seriously, anyway) about whether or not we’ll be able to eat. I cannot imagine trying to live on $400 a month, even with a grocery voucher.

We’re all working hard, building our businesses and trying to make a positive impact on the world. In the midst of that, it’s easy to be blind to the needs of families like this, people whom God refers to as “the least of these.” In this season of economic instability, there is still much to be thankful for. Let’s be innovative and energetic and give our best everyday. Let’s also live with integrity and do business with integrity. And let’s do all we can to reach and remember “the least of these” among us each day and across the world.

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