LETTERS TO THE EDITOR | Try walking among the needy
April 20, 2012 · Updated 3:25 PM
To the editor:
Conservative orthodoxy dismisses nearly all social programs as unnecessary, and maybe even evil. I encourage all conservatives to travel to a third world country and walk among the locals.
Thailand is a country I have always loved, particularly for the kindness of the Thais themselves. But in a recent visit, I was reminded how lack of a robust social safety net savages the poor and disabled. Average citizens, stretched to the limit simply to feed and clothe themselves, do not have access to medical treatments and devices. Families are usually too busy to care for their sick or disabled kinfolk because members must work themselves to exhaustion in order to survive. Child welfare services are too weak to keep many children from being sold into prostitution. Social security programs for the aged are not universal and pay only a pittance. No enforceable pollution laws protect the beautiful Chao Phraya River, which now smells like a garbage dump.
Each current candidate for the Republican presidential nomination says he wants to chop as many social programs as the guillotine will allow, including drastic cuts for people who most need our help. My question to them is this: What do we, as citizens of our great country, owe people who, either through circumstance or exigency, do not fare well in our society? Must it be a life without dignity followed by a painful death?
Consider my last heartfelt image: A young man in Bangkok, obviously paralyzed from the waist down, pulled himself along by his elbows on a crumbled and broken sidewalk in 90 degree heat. He nudged his begging cup along with limp and dirty hands. In different times, Jesus was beaten and despised; only a few had enough courage to offer their help.
November elections provide a clear contrast: stand and watch the damnation of less fortunate people, or risk being courageous enough to stand up for the poor, disabled, aged or mentally challenged. A lesson for us all — regardless of political viewpoint — to remember: “There but for the grace of God go I.” But God bestows his grace where he will. It’s likely that sooner or later, some of your own loved ones will need more help than you or private charities are able to provide. As their neighbor —- as a patriotic American! —- I stand ready to do my equitable share to help out. I hope you will, too.