Fairness and Equality

The other day, I listened to a priest talk about the Parable of the Prodigal Son. As he spoke, I started to think about what it really means to be a Christian and a human being in America today.

Prodigal SonBy no means am I a religious person, but the philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth has always been one of my guiding lights. The one driving force behind my understanding of His ministry has been an openness to walk in the shoes of all people no matter of their race, creed, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

As the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, I listened intently and attempted to put myself in someone else’s shoes. As I listened I wondered how it must feel to my friends who are in loving relationships with a person of the same sex, knowing that they are not as ‘equal’ as I am.

I wondered how it felt for Edie Windsor, the heroic plaintiff in the DOMA litigation. The idea that a government could interfere in the lives of so many Americans and subjugate so many people to the role of second class citizens as if they has a stigma of difference plastered across their faces or tattooed on their arms like Jews in a Nazi concentration camp or a branding inflicted by a slave master many years ago.

That is what is really at stake; what was being argued in front of the highest court in the land is fairness and whether America really is a democratic republic where all people are truly equal, or is it some other sort of bastardized republic where only certain people have full rights and privileges based on an archaic view of the world around them.

On the other side of the Washington DC Mall at the Capitol, Paul Ryan held his own court as he introduced yet another anti-poor, anti-middle-class, austerity-laden budget that he knew would surely be defeated in the Senate but, because of his ego and ideology, he was not going to let the poor or the elderly get in the way of his career, as lead knight in the fight against the so-called “takers.”

Congressman Ryan once again defied logic in his call for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, cuts to Social Security and by attempting to turn Medicare into a voucher system that will leave many of the elderly to choose between their heath and food. His budget does nothing for the revenue side of the ledger, and there are no cuts to the ever-ballooning defense budget. Mr. Ryan’s only has one answer when it comes to the budget and it has nothing to do with fairness or logic. Instead, it has everything to do with taking America back to a time before the New Deal and the Great Society — back to a time when the federal government did nothing for the common man and everything for the 1%.

I wondered whose side the father in the story would have taken; would he side with the Paul Ryan and Samuel Alito crowd or would he be on the side of fairness and equality? Many of us know how it turned out. In the parable the father, after listening to his eldest son and his reasons as to why the father should disown the prodigal son, tells the eldest son to take the young son into their home and feed, clean and give him sandals as a sign of equality and love. That’s a great example to follow.