God tells me to worry about the foriegner and the widow and the orphan. It seems a safe bet that he’s talking about all the disenfranchised and disenpowered.
He’s located me in America in the year 2007. He’s blessed me with an amazing career that’s exposed me to inner city, emotionally disturbed kids.
I have no doubt that these are the widows and the orphans and the foriegners that God told me to worry about.
So I ponder and I pray about how best to take care of these kids where I am. One thing that I struggle with is people who think we are doing enough.
It’s awesome that I live in America. I love my country. I love democracy. There are great things about capitalism. We are doing a better job than many places and times in history of looking out for the least of us.
But I don’t think it’s enough.
People talk about equality versus equality of opportunity. They characterize liberals (like me) as folks who just want to equalize everything: divide all the money we have among all the people, divide all the property we have among all the people, irrespective of the abilities, work ethic, risks taken, etc.
But this isn’t really what I want.
The folks who sometimes characterize liberals thusly say that we don’t need to do anymore, than in fact we shouldn’t do anymore.
They claim that all we really should supply is a level playing field. And then people should just slug it out. If they win, they win. If they lose, they lose. If they don’t try, then they didn’t try.
The thing is this: I totally 100% agree that we should provide a level playing field. Within certain limits, we should allow people to benefit or pay based on this performance.
My real issue is just how level the playing field is. Does an inner city kid have the same shot as a suburban kid? Does a person who starts off wealthy have the same shot as somebody who starts off with nothing?
No, No, no. There is so much injustice in all this! No!
I’m going to take a little trip in my brain. I’m going to compare hypothetical sucessful person and a hypothetical failure.
Let’s call the winner “Fred” and the loser “Barney”
Fred’s mother becomes pregnant. She has access to adequate health care. She is educated and has a support system. She has access to adequate health care. She’s able to afford a midwife, pregnancy books, etc. Her doctor is top-notch and respected in her field. She’s got a white-collar job during which she spends a fair ammount of her day sitting.
Barney’s mom recieves medicare. And she is thankful for it. But her doctor is not an expert in his field. Barney’s mom does her best on a limited budget but can’t afford to eat healthily all the time. She’s not much of a reader, perhaps, and has a few loving family members who don’t know much more than she does about healthy pregnancies. Barney’s mom doesn’t get much time off during her pregnancy, and she works a physically demanding, blue-collar job which leaves her on her feet.
Fred is born healthier than Barney. He hits his milestones earlier. He learns faster.
Fred ends up with a college-educated Nanny that reads to him. Barney ends up in a day care center. Fred is frequently read to. He has a library of books in his nursery. Barney’s dad tries to get him to the library. He often has a couple books around.
Fred’s reading readiness skills are all set by the time he enters kindergaren. Barney? Well, he’s starting to get some basic concepts, but he’s behind.
Studies show that we can predict high school success pretty accurately based on grade school performance. Fred is at the top of his class in a suburban school. Barney is somewhere in the middle.
Fred’s school has all the resources it needs. It has well paid teacher and lots of technology. It has lots of opportunities for enrichment. .. Much of it’s increased funds come from the higher property taxes of where Fred lives. Also, Barney’s school is forced to spend it’s limited funds remediating the poor standardized testing results his inner city school suffers from. The music teacher from Barney’s school is fired (Never mind all the studies that demonstrate the academic value of enrichment classes.) to free up enough funds for the school to offer an after school program to low-performing students. Barney, not particularly low performing, doesn’t participate.
Fred’s parents new that they needed to start saving for college years ago. They also have the resources to do so. Barney takes out loans or works more hours than Fred. But he went to an inferior school where he learned less subject matter, was taught less critical thinking and study skills, etc. Fred graduates at the age of 22. Barney is on the 6 year plan.
Barney has less understanding of business expectations because he comes from a blue collar family. Fred’s loving parents take him out to buy interview clothes after college graduation.
Imagine Fred and Barney showing up at an office, interviewing for the same job.
Fred is suave and well dressed. He is well prepared, having discussed his first big interview with dad.
He got a great night’s sleep on his new matress. He traveled in comfort because he just had his air conditioner charged. He learned stress management techniques at summer camp growing up. He’s young and hip and seems a go-getter.
Barney’s old matress lead to his old back injury flaring up. It’s scorching hot and his cheap hair cut is sticking to his scalp because his sensible car’s air conditioner is running down. He made guesses about appropriate dress and couldn’t afford the most fashionable. The boss deduces the 7 years Barney took to graduate by subtracting high school college graduation date from college graduation date.
The boss is sensible enough to know that it might not be Barney’s fault… He might be an amazing person. But the boss has a responsibility to hire the best person for the job. How could it not be Fred?
There are a hundred little ways that the field is tilted. It seems petty to mention any one of them in isolation. But when taken together, they form this barrier to equality… more than that, they form an empire that opresses God’s children as surely as the Romans and Egyptians did.