As I listen to the partisan and ideological debates over providing the best possible education and medical care for South Carolina’s poorest citizens, I am reminded of a couple of well-known comments on the poor.
In Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the ghost of Christmas Present takes the despicable Scrooge to a dark and dank place in London where the poor huddle together as families rather than the fathers leaving for debtor’s prison or the public workhouses, which Scrooge believes are the proper resorts for these people.
At one point the ghost pulls back his robes to reveal two dirty, shivering children. He explains that one is “ignorance” and the other is “want” and says we should be most wary of the first.
We could dismiss Dickens’ social comments as being liberal, but look around and see what lack of access to a good education has done for us. Opportunity and encouragement to achieve must be a basic — and not for a goal of minimally adequate.
In Matthew 25, Jesus says those who have cared for they least of these when they were sick, hungry and in need have done this for him, and will receive their reward. We must remember that all we possess has been given to us by the grace of God. And we will be judged for our stewardship, not for how much we saved ourselves on taxes at the expense of the least of our brothers.