The below picture was posted on a popular social media platform sometime today with the title, “LA’s Union Station. One guy opened up his suitcase to help the other.” As both a Catholic Worker and a human being, this picture fills me with hope. It reminds me that no matter how shitty things can be and no matter what rotten things humans can do to each other, we still have this incredible ability to love one another. There are times when each one of us has gone beyond our comfortable boundaries to reach out to another human being, simply for the fact that it’s the right thing to do. In my opinion, this is God (by whichever name you call God) acting through us. These are the moments where we are able to see others in the same fashion that God sees us – flawed, fucked up, broken, heartsick, lost, confused, angry people who just need a little love, a little help to get us through to the next stage – whatever that may be.
Now of course, if you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, is where I’ll drop the other shoe:
These comments – of which there were plenty – are what I call disqualifying statements. Rather than affirming the person’s humanity – thus making them worthy of mercy- they strip humanity away by attributing an act or status that makes them undeserving of mercy and somehow less human. These disqualifying statements are rooted in judgement – something we have no right to enact. Allow me to get all preachy and biblical for just a moment:
‘You therefore have no excuse, you who pass judgment on another. For on whatever grounds you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.’ ~ Romans 2:1
I could go on but I think I can only test your patience enough, dear reader. Besides… I have a better question.
Why should a drug addict, prostitute, pimp, dealer, gambler, etc… be any less deserving of mercy because of what they do? Does the man in the picture – who may or may not be a drug addict – not need clothes? Does him being a drug addict change that? If not, then why make these disqualifying statements at all – out loud, or otherwise?
We need to refocus on the person in need rather than the actions of that person. The actions of the person should not be a qualifier of mercy and humane treatment.