I just had to do some admittedly too late to call it spring cleaning of my friends list on Facebook. I know you should not live in an echo chamber but the absolutely psychotic degree of hatred leveled at the poor (or as they like to call them “takers”) in our country was starting to trigger me, hard. I wish had saved the internet meme that put me over the edge. It was something along the lines of “share if you think it is wrong that some, hard-working, people are taxed to the point of breaking to give money to those who refuse to work.” Frankly I put a bit of the blame for the timing of that meme on a crap broadcast by that bastion of “liberal” media, 60 minutes, on disability benefit fraud. Nothing says legitimate journalism like sensationalist, nasty, speculation by two disgruntled employees, but I digress. I blame the ongoing nastiness directed at the less fortunate in society on something far more insidious.
One of my dearest, best friends in the world (who just moved back to her native Wilmington NC and I am going to miss her, her husband, and their two wonderful children dearly but I am rambling) finds, as do I, a particular, common phrase offensive: “there but for the grace of God go I.” The implication, of course, is that God, for whatever reason, just did not care about those people who inspired the comment to not keep them from misfortune’s path. She obviously found it a bit self-righteous and self-serving. It is, when you really think of it, a very hurtful thing to say about those already going through a hard time. It is also a very hurtful thing to say about your God. We have both had a good, frankly sad, laugh at how some of the divine spirit’s supposed biggest fans have a fairly low opinion of him/her/them.
Rachel, for her part, seems to be of the mind that if most people realized the pain implied in that phrase, they would not use it. I wish I had her faith, because I think, deep down, a lot of people need to believe just that. They need to believe that God holds them above those going through the terrible trials of disaster and deprivation. It makes them feel secure but also, it makes them feel special and, frankly, superior. That is why it is so telling that some of the people who use it the most are those that have some fairly horrible opinions of poor people.
Their belief that their Creator holds them dearer allows them to ignore the suffering of others. It allows them to post, with no sense of hypocrisy despite the fact that they, at least in theory, follow in the footsteps of a man who said “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” memes that crap all over the least of their brethren. It replaces empathy with the certainty of divine license to hate their neighbors for inconveniencing them, which is what whining about taxes being spent on welfare amounts to.
Surprisingly I never see these same, so-called Christians, complain about several times more money being spent to bomb brown people in another country. I guess those people did not have God’s grace either. Neither did the troops we spend so much money sending oversees, troops they are oh so eager to point out their support for, except, of course, when it comes time to keep them from harms way, or to take care of them when they come home because “there but for the Grace of God.”
I am not a believer, I just cannot be. It is not because of stuff like this, it is not because the hateful, hurtful things, I see done in God’s name. I see good done in God’s name too. Good done by people like Rachel, her family, and others. It is just a matter of logic for me, and I cannot make myself believe in something logic tells me cannot be proven. That said, I kind of hope there is no God, not because I am afraid of some retribution for my heathen ways, but because my heart would break too much for such a being, a creature of supposed infinite love that has to look down and see how much loathing is inspired by their name. The fault, of course, is not in the divine itself, if it is exists, but in us. The flaw is ours, and we cannot bear to admit that, so we lay the blame on God, and of course accept that blame as an excuse to not to do the not terribly hard work of making the world a safer, saner, kinder one for everyone. So much talk of God’s grace, we leave little room for our own, but maybe that is the point.