“Whenever you failed to help any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you failed to do it for me.” Matthew 25:40, the Poverty and Justice Bible
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States, guided our nation through the great depression. He frequently reminded us of our responsibility to care for the poor as when he said, “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”
The question for us today is, ”How should we as a nation and as individuals respond to those words?”
Clearly, as people who want to do what is right, it behooves all of us to advocate for fair treatment for those who cannot work because of the pandemic. It is they who need our financial assistance, not big businesses or the financial supporters of members of Congress, and not the billionaire buddies of the President.
As to who we should help and what we can do, let us first be clear about the fact that none of us can do everything, but we can all do some things. An important key to being helpful is trying to put yourself in someone else’s place and asking: “If this were me, what would I need?”
A few examples follow to start you thinking about the type of things you can do remotely, or while wearing masks and maintaining social distance.
- Helping parents with child care for a few hours a day so they can work is an awesome gift. In one family I know the grandparents offer hour-long interactive, internet sessions with a toddler based on their skills: the writer reads to her grandson, while the soloist teaches him songs and sings with him. Adding a few children’s toys to your tool kit provides the option for making clay figures together, stacking blocks, or giving puppet shows.
- Shopping for groceries, delivering a home-cooked meal, mowing the lawn, walking the dog and driving seniors to critical medical appointments are all valuable services for the elderly, especially those with underlying health concerns. Helping them is especially important for those who have no family members living nearby and it is also a gift to their worried relatives.
Supporting local food banks with financial and/or food donations should be high on the list of everyone who has a job and can pay their own bills. So should giving donations to low-income friends and acquaintances who can’t work because of the virus, or who must work but can’t afford child care costs for young children who would normally be in school. Suggesting the recipient pass the financial gift on to someone else when they are able to do so can save their pride and make it easier for them to accept your help.
Though we do not know how long this will last, our lives will not be governed by COVID-19 forever. When that time comes will you be able to look back and feel good about your responses and the people you helped survive?
Blessings on your efforts to do it unto the least of these,
Judy Osgood, May 11, 2020