What is the age at which children outgrow compassion and empathy? I find many people have soft hearts for children in dire circumstances as they are seen as not responsible for the conditions surrounding their lives. However, adults are often not the beneficiaries of such grace flowing soft hearts. They are met with assumptions of guilt and liability. The word “responsible” is defined as liable to be called to account as the primary cause, motive, or agent. Does age alone make a person the primary cause, motive, or agent for the injustices and evils they are subjected to? If I am broken as a child due to neglect and inhumane treatment, does age mysteriously heal me, or if untreated, do I just harden in my deformed state making me more of a challenge to be righted? The latter is much more realistic. Are those that have afflicted me as a child exonerated as I pass from childhood to adulthood, even though I was offered no remedy and their evil practices have continued? This is the experience for many who have been oppressed and exploited by unjust governments and under-democratized societies.
People must be considered in light of their entire history or a disconnect can be formed which leads to wrong conclusions about them, and lethal consequences for them. What will happen to the thousands of mostly Black children poisoned by lead water in Flint and Benton Harbor Michigan. If they succumb to the lead poisoning and experience the side effects of decreased cognitive abilities, high blood pressure, and dementia. Will they be condemned to low paying jobs and all the hardships associated with that? Will they experience an inability to get affordable healthcare for illnesses resulting from hazardous infrastructure the government chose not to replace? History predicts that there will be some talk about providing them assistance during political campaigns, but the end result will be insufficient tax funded programs available to brace them up to prevent them from falling, or to catch them on their way down to compassionless obscurity.
We have seen many people fall through the cracks, like war veterans suffering physical and emotional damage, like the 9/11 first responders suffering from the toxic dust encountered while trying to save lives after the twin towers collapsed, like the refugees fleeing from governments destabilized by US international policies, like North America’s indigenous people who were given empty promises, like the mental impact of centuries of terroristic racism on Black people which has been totally dismissed.
Christ has brought us light into the world, but we must be willing to face the truth. The Holy Spirit will comfort us from the grief and despair that are inherent with such evil times. When I first heard about the lead water contamination in Benton Harbor Michigan, and how the problem was concentrated in a predominantly Black community, I immediately thought of Flint Michigan which similarly happened to impact a predominantly Black community. According to the CDC, people with prolonged exposure to lead may be at risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, and reduced fertility, along with a host of other ailments. As I contemplated the possible repercussions for those young black children from the communities of Flint and Benton, I just felt complete disgust. These types of environmental dangers are showing up in predominantly Black neighborhoods so regularly that the phrase Environmental Racism has been coined. Here is a clear definition of the term from Greenaction.org.
“Environmental racism refers to the institutional rules, regulations, policies or government and/or corporate decisions that deliberately target certain communities for locally undesirable land uses and lax enforcement of zoning and environmental laws, resulting in communities being disproportionately exposed to toxic and hazardous waste based upon race. Environmental racism is caused by several factors, including intentional neglect, the alleged need for a receptacle for pollutants in urban areas, and a lack of institutional power and low land values of people of color. It is a well-documented fact that communities of color and low-income communities are disproportionately impacted by polluting industries (and very specifically, hazardous waste facilities) and lax regulation of these industries.”
As Christians, those who have taken up the cross of Christ, I pray that we are crucified to the love of money and the affections of this world. That is the only way to keep the eye of the spirit from going dim due to the effects of a compromised heart. May we stand as soldiers of light and love against the hordes of darkness which attempt to remove the glory of GOD from the earth. The glory of GOD is the glory of Love. The glory of Love is the manifestation of humility, generosity, charity, patience, temperance, empathy, truthfulness, and a zeal for righteousness in those made in His image.
I am encouraged by the words of Christ:
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NKJV)
Love has overcome and is cascading from Heaven. Let us endeavor to be channels of this divine love, poured out in our families and communities which attest to the victory of Christ.