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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Dichotomies of Evaluation

What is your first reaction to TV or newspaper reports of homeless people: "They probably are just too lazy to work"? or "We ought to do something to help"? Why? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1042).

When Kathy was deathly ill, some good intentioned people put tremendous pressure upon me when they would express their belief that Kathy would be healed if only we (translated—I) had enough faith. The inevitable corollary to that belief was that if she did not recover, it would be the result of a deplorable lack of faith (primarily mine). In other words, at a time when I was stressed to the point of desperation because of her critical condition in intensive care, I was served an additional measure of stress and guilt that was almost unbearable. I mention this because I find it related to our attitudes regarding the homeless. We tell the homeless (and unemployed) “If only you were not lazy you would have a job”—we tell this to people already under unimaginable stress, especially those with families to provide for. We tell those already feeling guilty as hell regarding their situation and struggling with feelings of tattered self-worth that if only they were not lazy all would be well. Human insensitivity—even cruelty—at times can be almost unbelievable. To the homeless and the chronically unemployed I would simply suggest that the next time someone makes this allegation about you, that you respond simply "Offer me a living wage job right here, right now, and see how lazy I am." Why is it that we insist on heaping pressure and blame upon others, rather than asking how we can best help? My belief is that it is because we know only too well the vulnerabilities of our precarious self-righteousness and the unearned advantages that belie our insufferable pretensions to merit.

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