Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Letter to the Editor

I wrote a letter to the editor of the local newspaper, in response to a previously printed letter. The original letter was from a doctor who was very concerned about people, people in need. In fact, she sounded anxious in her concerns. So my response seems appropriate to print here also, even if it never makes the paper.

Dear Editor:

A recent letter expressed a doctor’s concerns for her patients; she sees their problems first hand. “I talk to families every day who have suffered from the effect(s of) this economy.” “My representative seems to be working in direct opposition to the needs of the working families -- irresponsible.” “I do know we just can’t ignore these problems any longer.”

I understand her concern, most of us do, but I don’t see the same path to a solution. She states: “I talk; I know;” and transitions to a “we” must do something. Her deep concerns turn to a scream out the window: “Somebody must do something!” And that somebody is in Washington. I don’t agree.

Perhaps another example to clarify: If you see a man drowning, or a man starving, do you say: “Somebody” must do something, or do YOU do something? A wise man once gave us examples like this, and even a commandment on what to do. The commandment was not to “Love the public as yourself”, it was to “Love your neighbor as yourself”. Love is a very personal act; it is one-to-one. This man worked miracles; he could have cured the ill in whole towns, whole countries. Why didn’t he?

Because he wanted to give us an example of love, an example for us to follow.

The Catholic Church has a great social teaching on “subsidiarity”. It says that if you have a problem, the first source of solution should be yourself. And if you see a neighbor with a problem, the first source of assistance should be you. And if together you can’t reach a solution, then seek your neighborhood, then your church, then your city, etc. The government is not without a role, but it is the LAST choice. Solutions should always start with you.

Ninety percent of people are employed, only 10 percent not. Over two hundred million have insurance, only 25 do not. You don’t know how to act on these big problems yourself, then get together with 8 others to help the one unemployed. It starts with helping one. Talk to your neighbors, your subdivision group, your church, your city. Rally your neighbors.

You have time. Volunteer to do what you do best – fill out tax returns, cook in a soup kitchen, offer day care, work in a clinic. You have a rainy day fund. Hire an unemployed person to do work around your house. And all of this, to what impact? Read Saturday’s WSJ article on the heart surgeon who decided to do something, and now routinely does $100,000 surgeries for $2,000. You CAN make a difference.

“Do something for your fellow man for which you get no pay” (Albert Sweitzer). You have a rainy day fund in case you may have needs? For many of your neighbors, it is raining. Hard. Now.

“Somebody must do something?” That someone is you.

And what of our politicians? I’ve spoken to my representative McCotter a number of times. He recognizes that the government is not the solution to most social problems. Large programs create bureaucracy, dispassion, and large centralized expenses – a breeding ground for greed and corruption, and inefficiency. Dispassion is the key problem with the government solution; there can be no love in dispassion, only attempts at cost efficiency – regardless who pays the cost. I support Mr. McCotter’s efforts. I’ve hired my unemployed neighbor to do work for me.

1 comment:

  1. Hi and welcome to St. Blogs. I'd like to invite you to participate in Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. We are a group of Catholic bloggers who share our best posts with each other. See this week's edition at