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Posted: December 4, 2011 12:30 a.m.

Helping society's Hagars

I heard a modern version of the Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael story this week. You may remember Abraham, who turned Hagar and Ishmael out into the desert, with bread and a skin of water. (The Abraham of Ishmael and Issac.) Both of which were soon exhausted.

When the water was gone, Hagar left Ishmael under a bush. She then went some distance away, saying: "Do not let me look on the death of the child."

In Atlanta this week a young woman stabbed her 4 year-old autistic daughter to death. She had mental and emotional issues, but also had no rent, no utilities and no food. That sounds like a recipe for mental/emotional issues.

The news reports focused on how unthinkable, horrible, etc., her actions were. Really? Rather than abandon her autistic child to our (note the plural common noun) neglect, she gave her the only gift she had.

Moral judgments and morality are a luxury of people who have choices. We choose to buy lattes, iPhones and other frivolities. We choose to vote to reduce social services. We choose to vote for lower taxes. We choose to be tourist-missionaries rather than meeting needs locally.

We have chosen to have more Hagars, just as surely as if we stood silent next to Abraham when he turned Hagar and Ismael out into the desert.

Is that the best we can do? A moment of feeling ashamed we didn't do more until we turn back to our attention-starved, insecure existences?

If we reach out to help the Hagars in our society not be lonely, impoverished, desperate and frightened, we will find that we are less attention starved and insecure. Our lives will take on meaning as we see our efforts helping others and so we become more whole ourselves.

Patrick Durusau is a Covington resident.

 

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