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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Which kind of people are we?

This week has brought two competing visions to the news.  At the Tea Party sponsored Republican Presidential candidate debate some audience members agreed that a person in a coma with no medical insurance should be untreated and allowed to die.  Then there is the amazing video of the group of people who lifted a car off a downed motorcyclist (with the motorcycle burning hard right next to it), pulled him out from under it, put out the flames on his foot, and then went on their way as emergency personnel took over.  Two competing visions of the value of life; of our obligations to others; of our own humanity.

Intellectually I can think about the differences in the scenarios.  One was a hypothetical situation presented in a forum that was emotionally keyed up, televised and prone to provoking instant (and perhaps non-thinking) responses to statements in a political context.  The other was the reaction of people faced with a real human being in danger who was right in front of them.  The difficulty is that most of the time we are not face to face with the person who is suffering, ill or needy.  They are hypothetical to us although they are very real and very human.

It is very important in my mind that we keep the humanity of others very clearly in our minds when we decide our positions on health care for the needy, food aid, housing assistance, etc.  Our decisions on sharing our resources through donations and volunteer work also need this kept in the forefront.  That is what keeps our humanity intact as well.

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