Charity, it is said, begins at home. But to rephrase the memorable (and fictional character) Inigo Montoya: To those who keep using that phrase. We do not think it means what you think it means. According to social researcher Hugh Mackay, “The original meaning is that charity begins in the home - that is to say kids learn charity in the home.”
For many of us, the first response to the freshly unveiled budget, is, “How does this affect me?” And truly, there are many points that are matters for concern. Will the new bank levy mean increased fees? Will the schools in town really suffer? Will it mean my children now receive a lower standard of education? Will it mean we have less access to great healthcare?
Less of us will realise that the new budget reveals about $300 million will be cut from the foreign aid budged over the next four years. “And rightly so!” many will claim. “We have so many needs in our own country!” or, “We can’t be borrowing money to give away!”
But how do our needs for better schools, improved healthcare and more roads compare to the millions of people who are fleeing from war or starving to death. While many of us are entertained by television programmes highlighting exotic cuisine and cooking techniques, at least a million people are on the brink of famine in South Sudan with a possible five million becoming ‘food insecure’ last month. Women and children will be amongst the worst affected.
Once upon a time, when a ship was sinking, priority for evacuation would go to women and children. Why? Because they were considered vulnerable and helpless. For followers of Jesus, putting the needs of others before self should be part of their DNA. If we really want to follow Jesus, we should consider how he put his own needs last and reflect on what it means for us today.
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