Friday, January 6, 2012

Burdens and Benefits

Sistene Chapel - Michelangelo
Kenya 2011

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.                                 Micah 6:8(NIV)
Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”                           Jeremiah 29:7 (NIV)

Diseases are not equally distributed and neither are the burdens and benefits of research, health education and healthcare.  It is a reality that we would like to resolve with better distribution or redistribution.   Our cultures have proposed political, economic and ethical responses with limited success, but the reality of inequality is still with us.  

Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson in their book, The Spirit Level (2009) argue that the healthy societies are better for everyone as evidenced by those societies where equality is valued and promoted.  More recently President Obama(12/6/11) made a similar argument for a new and fairer national response to economic inequality.  What drives these responses?   What is the source of these prescriptions?
These prescriptions have as their basis the moral imperatives of love and justice.  In a comprehensive way, Nicholas Woltersdorff in his justice books* addresses the nature of justice and sees “rights, duty and love” as an integrated Christian moral response to care for and about the “other”.  But, how do we practice these principles as healing agents? 
Healing agents must embody a “love” that is more than just compassion for those with the burden of disease.   In a similar manner, the benefits of education, research and  therapy are more than restoration of a valued member of the community; it must embody reconciliation.   It is more than “naked benevolence” or “simple justice” but a response that changes not just the immediate suffering, but strives to prevent it.  This comprehensive view of “justice in love” means that being healing agents is what brings glory to a God we serve because of God’s love for us!

 *Justice: Rights and Wrongs(2008); Justice in Love(2011)
   See blog December 24, 2010 - The “Telos” of Christian Healing Agents

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