The Sedona Unitarian Universalist Fellowship believes in “justice, equity and compassion in human relations.” They want everyone to have the resources needed to live a decent life. They smile approvingly at author Anne Lamott’s admonition, “Nobody gets into heaven without a reference letter from the poor.”
To this point, a UU minister tells about a judge who presided over a trial in Ohio during the 1930s depression. The defendant was a man charged with stealing groceries. He pleaded guilty and offered no excuses, except that he had a family, but no money and no job.
The judge sighed and said, “I’m very sorry to hear that. But you broke a law, for which I am obliged to fine you ten dollars.” Then he took out his wallet, pulled out a bill, gave it to the poor man, and said “Here’s the money to pay your fine.”
Next, the judge picked up his hat, handed it to the bailiff, and said, “I’m also fining everyone in this courtroom fifty cents each, or as much of that amount as they have with them, for living in a town where a father has to steal groceries for his family to eat.” He added, “Bailiff, please collect the fines in the hat and give them all to the defendant.”
That judge knew that sometimes a person’s material needs are the spiritual needs of everyone. We’re responsible not merely for ourselves, but also for the weakest and most exploited members of our community–for, “to whom much is given; much will be required.”
When we help those suffering from a lack of sustenance, we are being the kind of humans we were put on earth to be. A relevant South American prayer goes, “For those who are hungry, please give them bread, and for those who have bread, please give them a hunger for justice.” In either case, we are interdependent, beings, joined at the heart and the hip.
[published June 23, 2023]