Helping ‘the Least of Us’
I was very saddened to read some of the comments in Saturday’s newspaper about the decision of John Moses and others at Youth Services to use all available space to help those who ask for assistance.
I certainly understand the reason that we humans often try to hang on to the illusion that we know which of we humans have brains which cannot consider the needs or rights of others and which ones of us have brains today which can consider the needs and rights of others. As a father, friend, son and brother I would like to believe that I can someone protect those I love from harm. As an elder I know that is not the case.
Certainly, here in the U.S., we have labeled many people as criminals, locked them up for many years and treated them as people who deserve to be punished. Yet we continue to have more and more people hurting others, being locked up, released and then later returned to jail. It is interesting though, that those who commit murders often do so in a moment of passionate anger and will not do so again. The statistics are different for the general category of violent offenders. In the case of sexual assault of juveniles, 93 percent know their attacker.
I say all this to indicate that even if someone in the community was willing to donate money for background checks for everyone who asked Youth Services Staff for help, we still would not know who is truly dangerous. If we could predict that we might, as a society, be able to provide a loving, safe place for those whose brains are unable to consider the needs of others.
My clear understanding of the mission of Youth Services is to help those who many in the community have deemed “the least of us.” Just recently I again sat with some very respected adult members of this community who had been able to turn their lives around because of the loving and practical help of Youth Services. I hope that we, as a community, can quit reacting so fearfully to the fact that one person to whom youth services extended the hand of Christ has not been able to consider the rights and needs of a 12-year-old child. Yes, there are risks to helping “the least of these.” The greater risk is that we quit helping each other. We will all be in more physical, emotional and spiritual danger if we refuse to lend a helping hand to those in need. God help us all if we are defined on the basis of the worst hurt we have caused another.
Jimmy F. Pickett