The Sequester Cuts in Human Terms: The Rejection of the “Least of These”

For members of Congress, and quite honestly we are talking about Republican Conservative members of Congress, the Sequestration Cuts made earlier this year are just numbers. When these people discovered that air traffic controllers and safety personnel generally were being furloughed, inconveniencing the wealthy and powerful, they made an exception to it. Now they are prepared to exempt needed cancer treatment. That is a good thing too. But there are so many more human beings who lack the influence and the power and the ability to give voice to how this form of meat ax budget cutting is hurting them.

Lifting up conservative Republican members of Congress as being the primary culprits here is not a partisan action. It is declaring what is factually true about the indifference to the little people of our nation who matter so little to them. These are the “least of these” mentioned in the Holy Bible of Christians and even in Judaic texts shared with Christians. Liberal and even moderate Democrats are paying attention to the least of these as is the President. What were such terrible cuts to prevent anyone from allowing them to take effect so as to produce a grand budget deal, are now seen as permanent and the minimum required by anti-government and since the government is us, anti-humanity Republican Conservatives.

It begins with the attitude that the poor, the unemployed and even those retiring in old age are undeserving of help from government in addition to what might be available through public charity.

Many hard line conservatives in this country connect poverty and unemployment with criminal behavior and with the inability to be responsible human beings who have value as people. Therefore, cutting the poor off from what they have gotten from government to maintain themselves becomes a virtue to these people.

Even Social Security and Medicare are seen as “entitlements.” A man might say with blunt honesty, “entitlements my ass!” Anyone who receives these program benefits have worked all their lives and given a portion of their honest daily bread into funds specifically earmarked for their retirement. If you receive or are about to receive, or are merely contributing to these programs on your paycheck you are earning these benefits honestly and with integrity. Instead of entitlements we should refer to such programs as” earned benefit programs.” For that is precisely what they are.

Poverty and unemployment programs from government simply go to those who truly are the “least of these” given special protection by God in the statement that “the first shall be last and the last shall be first.” In God’s heavenly kingdom, the people with the cold hearts and indifferent minds to the needs of the most vulnerable among us will certainly be last in line to join the heavenly choir. Perhaps they will not even be there to join such a choir at all. They will reap what they sow.

Even those of us who are not indifferent to the suffering of the poor and sick and elderly and those with the inability to get the ear of someone of wealth or power have a duty to go to the aid of these people. In some cases they might even be people just like us.

The Sequestration Cuts are cutting out whole classrooms of head start students who desperately need that head start to get out of a life of poverty and hopelessness and to achieve.

They are reducing the government subsidy to Meals on Wheels programs all over the nation. Not only do elderly people who can no longer easily care for themselves get meals that sustain them and their health, but they get the brotherhood and sisterhood of visiting Meals on Wheels volunteers. Most of those folks will be served by private donations. But many will be cut from the program simply because the government subsidy has been cut in the sequestration cuts of last March. These are real people. They are no longer able to work and get what they need and they physically cannot feed themselves properly and they need that human contact when the smiling face of that Meals on Wheels volunteer comes in with their meal and says hello and checks on them.

The Sequestration Cuts do not meet the human needs of a significant number of vulnerable Americans.

Let that be repeated for emphasis: the Sequestration Cuts do not meet the human needs of a significant number of vulnerable Americans.

It is this that ails the conservative anti-government budget cutting fanatics that rarely go outside the cocoon of the Washington Beltway and their jet trips to their nice homes where these programs are largely irrelevant to them.

Everything government does to protect the health and safety of human beings and to reach out and aid those least able to take care of themselves is affected by these budget cuts which by law must be across the board cuts, meaning that being selective in what is cut is an impossibility.

Even the Department of Defense is getting serious cuts which first off affect the combat readiness of our armed forces to defend the United States. The original idea behind such severe cuts on a meat ax basis rather than the fine knife of a skilled surgeon was to scare defense Hawks, mostly Republicans and a few Democrats into not permitting these things to go into effect last March. They not only permitted it but lauded the cuts as being a good thing that they wish to extend to more people by making the cuts even larger!

Our Veterans have to wait a long time to get the treatment in veteran’s hospitals we have promised them! They then get less adequate care when they do get treatment.

And our military families will NOT benefit from the Sequestration Cuts at all. If anything, those now actively serving in combat zones and here training and refitting further at home are being hurt.

This is a huge moral lapse on the part of a significant number of our leaders. The nation possesses the wealth to take care of the most vulnerable people among us. But the will or moral sensibility to use it is lacking completely.

God knows. God surely knows that so many millions are being mistreated. He sees and notes even the fall of a sparrow and each hair on our heads. So says Holy Scripture. And God keeps his promises and only speaks what is true.

We are witnessing a total failure of our leaders to both lead and to represent the popular will of all our people, not just the most favored, the wealthy and powerful among us. It is a direct rejection of the biblical command, not a mere suggestion to both take care of “the least of these” of God’s children and to love one another as God loves us.

In Washington D.C. the indifference to the poor and the lowly and to human beings on an individual basis where a budgetary number on a page somewhere meets them in their daily lives is being ignored at great peril to the nation and to those who have done this terrible thing.

It is a rejection of care for “the least of these” that a higher power that is bigger than mere mortal humans who only for such a short time inhabit this Earth and wield such power.

Ought they pay more attention to how they do it in light of what God commands and expects of us in just about every religion and system of ethics you might wish to consult?

Those who are first now ought to remember that “the first shall be last and the last shall be first” in God’s kingdom. Self-interest alone ought to be enough to get this unjust law to be repealed. Reaching out to help our fellow human beings because we love God and God wants us to help is why most of us oppose this legislation.

Let us embrace the most vulnerable and more than meet their human needs. Let us embrace a common humanity where we all owe something to each other beyond our own self-interest and comfort. Let us follow the biblical command to love one another. Let us do it with great urgency and energy right now

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