Compassion

Posted: September 29, 2011 in Batteries Not Included
Tags: , , , , ,

Caveat: I am not writing any of this as a political post. Just what’s in my heart.

Yesterday on the way to get my haircut, I was listening to KCBS, and the report was on Obama’s plan/plea that we should raise taxes on the wealthier (anyone making over $1 million), to help pay for the budget. Now, I make nowhere near $1 million, so I suppose I’m not in any position to opine about the proposed tax rate, but it did get me thinking: since when was it the responsibility of the have-more’s to pitch in and help out the have-not-as-much’s? If you asked me to sell everything I had and give to the poor, I would say no. I have a family to feed, a mortgage to pay, guitars to buy, etc.

But what if instead of asking me to sell and give everything, what if you asked me to give just part of what I have, to help out someone who doesn’t have as much? Would I do it? I think I would. I think I have. Within my means, if I had extra, I would try to help out a brother in need. Had I not any extra resources, then within my means, if I could cut back a little on my own spending habits, so that I’d have something extra, I would try to help out a brother in need. Who do I help? There are so many who are in need. Those I have a relationship with would definitely come first.

What about the nation as a whole? Whose responsibility is it to chip in and help get this country afloat again? Do we all clutch tightly onto our own wealth and accumulated things and our gains, and watch the country sink? I mean, all that I have, I worked hard for it, I earned it – who has the right to take it away from me?

Which brings me to the question – everything I have, did I really earn it all? Did it all come by the sweat off my back? Or is there some truth to God’s reminder in Deuteronomy 6:10-13?

“So it shall be, when the LORD your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant — when you have eaten and are full —  then beware, lest you forget the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.”

I know that all that I have, I would not have were it not for the grace of God. But how quickly I forget, how quickly I snatch at my belongings and cry out, “Mine!”

After my haircut, on the way home, I heard another news report, this time on the decision by Texas to no longer grant last-meal requests to death row inmates about to be executed. KCBS interviewed Brian Price, one of the cooks who used to prepare the last meals (he had prepared over 200 in his time there) who offered to continue the last meal preparations at his own cost. His basic take was, “why not?” Why not show grace and mercy? Yes, this is a criminal, and we don’t want to take away at all from the gravity of the crime committed, but this criminal is about to pay the ultimate price for his crimes – could we not show a little grace? Price asked listeners to consider the other side of the story – the family of the inmate who gets to watch him die, the mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, children who are left behind, the stigma and finger-pointing that these family members will have to live with forever – what’s wrong with one last meal?

“But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.” – Matthew 9:36

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Comments
  1. Alice says:

    Sorry agree with you, and thanks for the biblical references. It’s so much harder to let go of our riches though, especially when we don’t think we have it. The psychological lie is the barrier. The only problem I see with giving to the government is whether I think the government knows the good and honorable way to help those less fortunate than I am. That’s the real crux of the political debate, at least is how I see it. I often don’t agree with how the government spends the tax dollars, especially under the guise of “social programs”. Longer term ramifications than what the political powers like to lead us to believe. As for the last meal… isn’t that just shameful?! Apparently the last guy who was executed made some egregious request (ordered a bunch of stuff but didn’t eat them) but come on! Such lack of charity.

  2. It’s unfortunate that the government has done so much to lose the people’s confidence. I completely see where you’re coming from on that issue.

    As for the last meal – you know, I can understand the guy. I might’ve ordered all that food, too.. and then when I got it, considering what’s about to happen to me, I might lose my appetite/nerve and not be able to eat any of it.

    Interestingly enough, in the interview, Price said that when he served the last meals, it was never how the public perceived it. If the prisoner ordered steak, he’d maybe get a steak burger. If he ordered lobster, he might get something with shrimp in it. Price’s point was that the last meal requests were made with whatever materials they had on hand in the kitchen, and it was never as extravagant as we imagined it to be.

    Price’s offer to provide the meals on his own cost was rejected – the reason given was that it wasn’t about the cost (which would be understandable given the complete waste of food from the last prisoner) but that it was the idea of a prisoner getting what he wanted. And that’s where I see the lack of mercy and compassion. 😦

  3. jeiji says:

    I think they should’ve kept the last meal thing, too, I didn’t see the harm in it. I think it’s because they were saying, though, that the inmates were ordering laaarrrrge and crazy things that they just couldn’t make for them, and sometimes didn’t even eat them. But still.

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