“Would you deny for others what you demand for yourself?
Cool down mama, cool off
You speak of signs and wonders, I need something other.
I would believe if I was able, but I’m waiting on the crumbs from your table….

Where you live should not decide whether you live or whether you die.”
Crumbs from Your Table, U2

What the hell is going on?

Today I read a blog of a friend who lives and serves in ministry in Malawi, Africa. It is titled “HIV/AIDS.” Since Ciona began working at Nashville Cares and my time with the Tiwasunge community last March, I have started to pay more attention to the words “HIV/AIDS.”

With each paragraph break toward the end of the piece I found myself saying out loud in my empty house, “What the hell is going?”

Then the stories came…

A little over a year ago, Joseph died of a treatable illness. A marathon runner in South Africa, fit and at the top of his game, he got meningitis which took the public hospital over three days to diagnose. Too poor to go to a private facility and his support base & advocate miles away, he died in about a week.

Last spring I meet Amira while playing with kids in South Nashville. Her family migrated to the USA with hopes of a better life, safe from religious persecution and full of possibilities for her three young boys. We met while she suffered from a deep depression as she and her husband, educated & trained school teachers in Egypt but jobless in the USA, waded through the massive amount of debt acquired after their first Nashville winter without health insurance and a community of people to help them find the help available to care for their 5 year old, 3 year old and 1 year old sons.

In Mali over a year ago, maybe less, a little twin survivor finally breathed her last breath. Malnourished and sick with a treatable disease, she joined her twin sister in death. 2008, 2009, 2010… children are still dying from malnutrition, treatable diseases and lack of clean water… Are you kidding me?

Four stories of people I know or have had some connection with through the faithful storytelling of friends. There are others I could share, but I really try to keep my blogs short and to the point.

The point is, these three stories are three of a book filled with millions of stories of people who live in situations and conditions that hinder them from the same health care opportunities those with wealth and power in our world are afforded. And I don’t believe, after years of being privileged to enter into the stories of hundreds of people from various walks of life, that where you live, the size of wealth you have acquired and/or the privilege you were born into should determine whether you live or whether you die.

I just don’t.

As I fight my own privileges to look at the health care systems of the world, specifically the USA, South Africa, Uganda and Malawi, from the view point of the poor I am deeply troubled… especially when I think about the thousands of children who are born into poverty we allow to die and suffer each year from treatable illnesses, lack of clean water, no insurance and hunger.

With all of the technological advances, innovative creative minds who have connected me with people on the other side of the world within seconds and the number of brilliant wealth making business minded individuals that exists in our world, can we not think of ways of making sure everyone in the world has access to clean water, quality health care and food?

Daily some opportunity crosses my path to offer $5 here or $20 to provide relief to someone, mostly children, who economic condition does not afford them the privilege of caring for their sick, diseased and/or hungry body. The invitations for charitable giving have become tiny sunbeams of hope and healing for me on days when the ugliness of the world we have created for ourselves tries my patience and chips away at my soul.  Though I may not be able to always give or choose to give, knowing there are people out there calling our attention to the needs of the least of these, putting them withing our scope of vision, warms my soul and keeps it real.

Yet each time I see these opportunities to give, most of which come from Christian faith communities or Christian inspired organizations- though not all, I wonder if this fully embodies what we (the Body of Christ) have been called towards. Is charitable giving the only thing that is required of us?

With that question being one of the many questions floating around in this head, I listened to an interview with Cornel West yesterday. He spoke truth to power, most of which stretched my imagination and resonated deeply with me. Out of all the words he spoke, these words still linger 24 hours later:

“We have a biblical imperative to not let philanthropy roll down like water, but justice roll down like water!  That is something else you see. That is the flame becoming a fire. Once the fire is inside of you, once that love is inside of you, you want to give more than philanthropic gift. You want to transform the conditions and circumstance under which people live. That is justice.”

What does justice really look like when it comes to “the least of these” and the health care systems of the national and global communities to which we belong?

What does it require of us?

What does it require of you?

What does it require of me?