Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
Month Date, 2009
Slashing funding, closing beds demands a Christian outcry
When the Alberta government decides to close 350 hospital beds across the province over the next three years, the Christian conscience cannot but be disturbed. When the Edmonton Boys and Girls Club has to lay off half of its staff and close its crisis intervention program because of provincial funding cuts, our voices must cry to heaven about the indifference to youth in great need and the peril to the community itself.
When 150 beds are closed at Alberta Hospital, leaving the mentally ill without the care they need, how can we possibly remain silent?
As Christians, our primary human allegiance can never be to some political party or ideology - whether that ideology says the less government the better or if it maintains that government holds the answer to all problems. The Christian response can never be a defensiveness of some political position.
The Christian response must be to say that, in good times and in bad, care for the most vulnerable must be the first priority. It is on the basis of how we care for the vulnerable that our lives will be judged.
What this means for our daily lives is not, of course, that we should be in perpetual fear of judgment, but rather that we should strive toward an ever-deepening love of the vulnerable, of whom the sick and dying, the emotionally abandoned youths and the mentally ill are prime examples.
The most pathetic response to the plight of the vulnerable is indifference. There is the bureaucratic indifference that dehumanizes the suffering of the vulnerable by thinking of them only as "units" or "beds" that need to be manipulated in order to perfect some ultimate solution. Then there is the moral indifference of the many, which takes brief note of the cutbacks but sees them as only affecting some anonymous others, failing to see the human tragedy they represent.
The Protestant theologian Jurgen Moltmann maintains that the perpetrators of injustice are typically blind to the harm they create.
"The victims' recollections of suffering are stronger than the perpetrators' recollections of what they did. . . . So truth is in the hands of the victims and it is from them that deliverance from delusion to reality comes."
We will not find truth through the lens of ideology or partisan politics. Truth can be seen through the eyes of the victims. This is not a political statement; it is the Christian viewpoint on the vast world of human suffering.
If we want to know who we are, we need to see ourselves through the eyes of those who have been dispossessed. That can provide shocking insights, ones from which we will want to turn away. But if we are serious about wanting the truth that makes us free, there is no better place from which to begin.
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