Within the increasingly poisonous and partisan dialogue in my corner of the world was the following encounter on Twitter:
These statements by a political operative beg the question: Are the already meagre services available to my son w/ autism “unnecessary spending?” It seems that people w/ disabilities are often treated as “unnecessary” by ableist politicians. The dignity and worth of human beings should never stop at whether people are “taxpayers,” “voters,” or “able-bodied.” True leadership means being committed to the well-being of all people.
The innate worth of a human being is not a matter of partisanship. To parse this in the language of “conservative” or “liberal” is to turn the real-world quality of life of human beings into a political football. I’ll paraphrase Rev. William Barber here in saying that this is not a “right” and “left” issue, it is a “right” and “wrong” issue.
However there is a deeper level to this discourse. The language of “fiscal responsibility” is a smokescreen that exists to mask the reality that a moral question has been asked: “Do all human beings have worth ?” And what answer does “fiscal conservatism” offer?
When the tidy, sterile language of “fiscal responsibility” is stripped away, the answer to the aforementioned question becomes clear. “Able-bodied,” “working people,” and “job-creators” are worthy and those who do not fall into those arbitrary categories (the disabled, the poor, etc.) aren’t “deserving.” A moral judgment has been made and the so-called “non-contributors” have been found wanting.
The fact that many North American Christians espouse “fiscal conservatism” as some kind of God-ordained virtue is distressingly ironic given that the faith they claim is entirely predicated on unmerited grace. All people are created in the image of God and that imago Dei imbues them with innate worth. That is what the Scriptures tell us. Jesus does not become “God with us” because of our super-awesome Protestant work ethic, and amazing “bootstraps pulling” abilities. Setting up a hierarchy of “deserving” people is profoundly anti-gospel and anti-Christ.
Jesus loudly proclaims that no-one is “unnecessary” and that everyone has value.