No More Excuses

homeless-veteran

by Liz Herrick

We’ve all seen that picture. You know the one, of Obama saying “We must find homes for 10,000 Syrian/Muslim refugees…” followed by a picture of a man lying on the ground with a caption that says “…1 of 50,000 homeless veterans.” If you haven’t seen it, go look it up for yourself, because frankly I’m sick of seeing it. The trend lately is whenever we see someone in need, we make excuses for why we can’t help them. The most common excuse seems to be “Well this other group, (that we’ve never tried to help before, and probably won’t help in the future) needs our aid more.”

As the daughter, niece, and granddaughter of veterans I say no. You don’t get to ignore the plight of the men and women who fought to keep you safe, until you can use them as an excuse to be selfish and discriminate against Muslims.

The Republican party has voted down at least 8 bills that would have benefited veterans. If people really cared about homeless veterans, they would have made a huge uproar over those bills being shot down. But now that veterans can be used as an excuse, as someone to hold up while you say “Look how good and patriotic I am, I put veterans before refugees,” now the uproar is happening.

It doesn’t work like that, for one very important reason.

Let’s ignore for the moment that refugees already go through an extensive vetting process.
Let’s ignore that refugee camps are the best terrorist recruiting grounds.
Let’s ignore that the refugees are seeking asylum from a war we caused.
Let’s even ignore the large number of people in this country who haven’t cared about veterans up until now.

Setting aside all of the politics, let’s look at the two things refugees and homeless veterans have in common: They are both human, and they both need our help.

We constantly put labels on ourselves and each other. We divide ourselves by our politics, our religion, our nationality, our race, our gender, our sexual orientation, our income, and so much more. But when we tear away all of those labels we find that we are all inherently the same. We are all simply human. And if we forget the labels, how can we say one person is more deserving of help than another? The homeless veteran is in need of food, shelter, a job, medicine, and safety. The refugee is in need of food, shelter, a job, medicine, and safety. We don’t have to pick which one we help. Likewise, we don’t get to use one as an excuse for not helping the other.

The author of Hebrews said “Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:1, NRSV). In the Old Testament, Abraham and Lot are said to have literally entertained angels without knowing. But this doesn’t mean that some of our house guests are literally angels in disguise. Remember when Jesus said “just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40, NRSV). When we serve those in need, we are serving God. You might think that just means helping the people close to us (like homeless veterans), but it extends beyond that. Many times in the Torah God commands us to welcome foreigners: “And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:19). Maybe we weren’t foreigners in Egypt, but remember that 99% of Americans are descended from immigrants. We haven’t been asked, we have been commanded by God to show hospitality to people in need, both those who are like us, and those who are strangers to us. When we do so, we are showing hospitality to God, because we are serving God’s children aka, humans.

Homeless veterans are not an excuse. If you claim the title of Christian you have an obligation to help refugees and homeless veterans and every other human being who is in need. We don’t get to decide who is human and who is not. We don’t get to decide who deserves our aid. So either stop making excuses, or admit that you just don’t want to follow Christ’s teachings.

Liz blogs at This Crazy Call

1397094673Hello, my name is Liz Herrick. I attend Louisville Presbyterian Seminary in Louisville KY where I am studying to get my Master of Divinity. I was raised in Jackson MI and graduated from Adrian College in 2014. I am an also an artist, primarily working in ceramic sculpture. In my spare time I like to read, write, draw, and sing.

Special Contributor to UMR

Special Contributor

This story was written by a special contributor to The United Methodist Reporter. You may send your article submissions to
editor@circuitwritermedia.com
.

Leave a Reply

4 Comments on "No More Excuses"

applications-education-miscellaneous.png
The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
 
Notify of
avatar
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Randy Herrick
Guest
Richard, George, and Russ I think you all missed the point of the post. “Homeless veterans are not an excuse. If you claim the title of Christian you have an obligation to help refugees and homeless veterans and every other human being who is in need. We don’t get to decide who is human and who is not. We don’t get to decide who deserves our aid. So either stop making excuses, or admit that you just don’t want to follow Christ’s teachings.” We ignore the plight of the veterans until another group comes along that needs our help and… Read more »
George Nixon Shuler
Guest

There’s a disabled female vet in our town who lives under a bridge and is a well-known “character about town” – sort of like Reb Nachum, the beggar from “fiddler on the Roof.” word is she’s banned from the shelter because she won’t obey the rules. My wife and a coworker who’s a former military policewoman sometimes buy her a meal at the local fast food establishments when they run into her there. I sometimes roll my eyes at their patience there, but, then again I admire them for their fulfilling their duties while I have shirked.

Richard Hicks
Guest

Some Vets are on the streets because: a) They like it. b) Even though they are mentally ill permanent residence in an appropriate facility takes a court order. c) Their non-mentally ill behavior makes them bad roomies, roomers, tenants, i.e., boozing/drugging, and/or whoring, and/or lots of animals mean they don’t conform to become good neighbors. Watch out my friends, since 9-11 Vets are an easy sell when fundraising. Wisdom and discernment is needed. Thank you, Richard F Hicks, OKC

George Nixon Shuler
Guest
The Department of Veterans Affairs is moving toward a “Housing First” paradigm which allocates resources towards alleviating the various issues Bro Hicks described above. In some cases this may mean moving certain individuals into private spaces without roommates or suitemates – sometimes, dwellings made from cargo containers are being used. There can be no doubt many who in generations past became hermits or trolls are persons with a limited capacity for cooperation. With private dwelling space, such is alleviated to some degree. Now, some may ask, “OK, so what if he doesn’t pay his electric bill by spending the money… Read more »
wpDiscuz
Google+
%d bloggers like this: