In last week’s papers there were two articles that caught my attention. One was about the Lt. Governor of South Carolina, Andre Bauer. He was talking to a group of conservatives and spoke of his grandmother’s wisdom when she told him not to feed strays. The reason being; they breed! He then extrapolated this warning to mean that the State of South Carolina should not provide ample food to people because they will reproduce. This is his reason for opposing subsidized lunches for children of parents who don’t show up for school conferences and/or whose parents use drugs.
What has happened to us? This man is an elected official, so, while his words reflect cruelty and stupidity, the people who elected him bear responsibility as well. Where is the kindness, love and tolerance that defined our American Revolution? In a land that believes in the dignity of every human being, how do the rest of us let this type of rhetoric and governing go on? This is EVIL! Mr. Bauer is using the vulnerabilities of poor people and people who have lost their jobs, etc. against them for his own gain. Is this truly a Christian Conservative way? Is this truly a Jewish Conservative path? I think not.
Granted, I am not a conservative. Yet, when principles of faith are invoked, I believe that I have the right and the duty to comment. One of the reasons that I am speaking out is because people in Recovery are treated as Pariah’s and less than as well as the poor.
I have heard many comments about “those” people. Well, as Harriet Rossetto said at the 18th Steps to Recovery Gala, “those” people are us, our children, our neighbors, etc. Some of our friends have suffered deep financial setbacks, some of our family members are addicts of one kind or another. Some of us have been to jail and/or prison. Some of us have done things wrong that we haven’t been “caught” for. Some of us have been “caught” doing what seemed like “normal business” and we are vilified, thrown out of the club and our families suffer. Should we be restricted from reproducing? Should our children suffer for our errors? Is this Jewish, Christian, faith-based at all?
We have to go beyond our own pettiness and pride. We must, to paraphrase Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, surrender our own self interest to serve the interest of God and others. Can we? Will we? I invite your thoughts and comments.