The treatment which we as a society will allow the least to be subjected to will eventually become the kind of treatment we allow anyone to be subjected to. So even if you are completely convinced that the least don’t matter or wouldn’t be the least if they didn’t deserve it, it is to your benefit – and the benefit of those you love – to make sure the least, nastiest human on the planet is treated the way you want to be treated. Because if they’ll let those people over there be treated poorly, what makes you think someone dangerous won’t eventually find an excuse to treat you just the same way and get away with it?
Yes, there are heart issues and theological concerns which should be our primary motivator to care for the least, but Jesus’ teachings also have a hard boiled, practical wisdom to them which people often miss. One of the things I have found very interesting in talking with people who opposed Obama or supported Trump is that they have a perception that the way they are treated has gotten worse. Their health insurance became too expensive, their employer treated them like a widget, their industry had suddenly been destroyed by a change in rules or markets, their communities were being decimated by drugs, they knew someone who got railroaded by the legal system, so on and so forth.
It’s maddening to listen to these people. I can totally empathize with their complaints and want to be compassionate towards people’s struggles, but where the hell were these people when this stuff was happening to the rest of us? None of this is new. Where were they during the crack epidemic? Oh that’s right – freaking out about crack heads and calling for more police and jail time even as our mental health infrastructure was actively being dismantled.
My health insurance went from $650/month in 1999 to $1600/month in 2008 – before Obamacare was even a thing. Where were they when that was happening for millions of us? Oh that’s right – fighting healthcare reform tooth and nail.
Back in the early 90’s when rap artists were talking about police brutality, where were these people who now feel violated going through airport security? Oh that’s right – they were busy condemning the rap artists as outrageous and evil.
I could go on and on, but I suppose you get the idea. The very things that many have been blaming Obama for and which they use as a reason for their support for conman Trump are things that they turned a deaf ear, a hard heart and condemnation in bucketfuls to when they were happening to other people. And now the treatment which was tolerated for the least in this country is starting to catch up with them. And they don’t like it.
These folks unhappiness with the way they are being treated is understandable, if overblown in comparison to what, for example, African Americans and Native peoples have been dealing with. As many people have been trying to point out for, you know, decades even centuries now, life in the real world sucks pretty hard pretty often. So, to all the folks who failed to head Jesus advice to care for the least and treat your neighbor as you’d like to be treated, welcome to America 2016. We’re all ni**as now. And y’all just decided that we get to experience the version of reality where George Bailey was never born. Excuse us if we’re a little salty about it. We’ll get over it. Eventually.