Why must Americans help all hurting people? Because even the poorest, the weakest, the sickest, the most ignorant, the most unfortunate, the most despised, the most hated person is created in the image of God, remaining infinitely valued and infinitely cherished by any civilization that is good, that is very good.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18, KJV). This Biblical proverb reminds us: as we battle the Virus and rebuild our civilization, we must be guided by our Vision of America.
This ideal America was first discovered in the hearts of Abraham, Moses and Jesus.
This ideal America is a Promised Land where we must bless all people—a civilization of the people, by the people, and for the people.
This ideal America is a Promised Land where we must challenge all pharaohs to set all people free from the Power of their Money, the Power of their Religion, and the Power of their Politics.
This ideal America is a Promised Land where we must heal all people.
At the moment, healing all people is our priority. Life is sacred. Without life, there can be no liberty or pursuit of happiness.
Unfortunately, there are many pharaohs who see this Pandemic as a chance to increase the Power of their Money, the Power of their Religion, and the Power of their Politics.
Pharaohs use the Pandemic to get richer and more powerful.
Pharaohs use their religious power to exploit and manipulate their followers.
Pharaohs destroy governments of the people, by the people, and for the people.
Pharaohs rule civilizations that are of the pharaohs, by the pharaohs, and for the pharaohs.
We must challenge such pharaohs so that we can build a civilization that is of the people, by the people, and for the people. A civilization that secures the rights of all people to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
A civilization that is good—that is very good.
To build such a good civilization, we must protect and help the vast majority of the people in the civilization—the “middle class.”
In my blog “Jezebel and Ahab: Greed, Lies and Violence”, I gave an example of how the ideals of the Law of Moses protected the “middle class” in Ancient Israel.
King Ahab offered to buy Naboth’s vineyard near the royal palace for a reasonable price.
Nevertheless, Naboth refused to sell Ahab the vineyard. He told Ahab, “The LORD forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers” (1 Kings 21:3).
Naboth’s refusal to sell the vineyard because it was “the inheritance of my fathers” was based on far more than a sentimental attachment to the “family farm.”
The ideals of the Law of Moses gave Israelites “unalienable rights” to their “family farm.” This God-given right of Ancient Israelites to have a “family farm” is comparable to the God-given “unalienable rights” of “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” that Americans have held sacred since the days of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
The word “alienate” is a fancy legal term meaning “sell.” Saying that something is “unalienable” is an old-fashioned way of saying that it cannot be sold.
What God has given, let no man or woman take away—whether it’s the “family farm” in Ancient Israel or whether it’s Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness in America today.
In Ancient Israel, the land that the family inherited from generation to generation could not be sold. Even if it was “sold”, the net effect was that the family farm was merely leased until the next Year of Jubilee—a year that came once every 50 years.
This legal prohibition forbidding permanent sale of the “family farm” protected the “middle class” in Ancient Israel.
No lower class of permanently impoverished families could arise. Families could always start over again when they came back into possession of their family farm once each fifty years.
This legal structure achieved two goals that are always in tension with each other in any civilization. Out of fairness, there need to be incentives to work hard so that you and the entire civilization prosper. And out of compassion, there also need to be “safety nets” to ensure that everyone’s basic needs for food, shelter and dignity are met.
In the United States—and throughout all Humanity—we still struggle to strike the wisest balance between providing incentives to prosper and providing safety nets of compassion.
This balance needs to be measured by the overall effects of our entire civilization on each person—not merely the effects of government programs, but also the effects of strong families, profitable businesses, compassionate faiths, and effective charities.
It takes a civilization!
Why must Americans help all hurting people?
Because even the poorest, the weakest, the sickest, the most ignorant, the most unfortunate, the most despised, the most hated person is created in the image of God, remaining infinitely valued and infinitely cherished by any civilization that is good, that is very good.
The protection of the family farm in Ancient Israel ensured that Israel’s middle class enjoyed a number of benefits that we still struggle to ensure to people today (in vastly different ways due to our vastly different economy and culture).
Education took place on the family farm. Everyone received a good education that empowered them to be gainfully employed.
Medical care was provided by family members. This “health care network” cared for everyone.
Aging family members stayed on the farm. They were not abandoned to linger in loneliness and poverty.
Instead, aging family members contributed proudly to the well-being of their families and communities for as long as their health permitted. Everyone aged with dignity—respected and honored by people who loved them for as long as they lived.
Naturally, these legal protections for the family in Ancient Israel strengthened families. You had to be a member of a family to share these benefits of a family farm.
The Liberty Bell links the Year of Jubilee in Ancient Israel (that protected their “unalienable right” to their “family farm”) with America’s Declaration of Independence (that proclaimed each person’s “unalienable rights” to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness).
The Liberty Bell rang in Philadelphia when the Declaration of Independence was signed at Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
Famous words are inscribed on the Liberty Bell. They come from the Bible. They quote the ideals of the Law of Moses that established the Year of Jubilee: “proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof” (Leviticus 25:10 KJV).
People of goodwill can—and will—differ in how they think best to implement this Vision of America.
How best can we give everyone a good education that empowers them to be gainfully employed?
How best can we provide health care for everyone?
How best can we enable everyone to age with dignity—respected and honored by people who love them for as long as they shall live?
How best can we balance incentives to work hard with “safety nets” to ensure that everyone’s basic needs for food, shelter and dignity are met?
The trees will vary in a civilization that is good—that is very good. How can a civilization best encourage wise governments, strong families, profitable businesses, compassionate faiths, and effective charities?
But regardless of which trees people think are best, all people of goodwill need to be in the same forest—fulfilling the Vision of America first discovered in the hearts of Abraham, Moses and Jesus.
We need to build a civilization that:
Blesses all people.
Challenges all pharaohs.
And heals all hurting people.
For additional Pandemic Wisdom, please read my blogs “Fear Not the Pestilence That Stalks in the Darkness”, “Getting Out of Your ‘Tent’”, “Trusting The LORD Will Provide”, “Pandemic Wisdom: Praying and Waiting”, and “Pandemic Wisdom: Hear and See, Understand and Perceive”.
To learn more about the ideas in this blog, please read the chapter “Ahab Takes Naboth’s Vineyard” and the related endnotes in my book Healing the Promised Land, at pages 221-233.