"There, but for the grace of God, go I."
I've heard this cliché many times, mostly from otherwise caring people. Most probably think it a kind thing to say, exhibiting a sort of empathy. My minister, Rev. Libby Smith, today mentioned it in another context that set me thinking.
By using this chestnut the speaker assumes that s/he has been blessed by the grace of God. Does this not imply that the homeless person on the street hasn't earned God's grace, or the woman buried in the rubble of her Haiti home doesn't deserve such a blessing? It seems so.
In that light, what a perfectly arrogant thing to say. How conceited to think we have, indeed, been blessed. Do I deserve the blessings of middle-class comfort? No. Have my ancestors somehow earned it for me? No.
The little Haitian boy with the broken leg sure to develop a nasty infection for lack of care is not lacking God's blessing. His ancestors made no pact with the devil, a la Pat Robertson. No, his ancestors were forced from their homeland, worked to death in slavery and paid a high price for freedom.
In his nation's poverty he was convicted to a life of dire need. That little boy, through no fault of his own, lacks God's blessing and Lady Luck's smile. I choose to join him in solidarity and deny any blessings others may claim I own. I will, however, send him some help via money to a charitable organization. Clean water and antibiotics. Should he choose to think he is blessed to receive them, so be it. It is not for me to say.
Causes Jodi Thompson Supports
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee