Every day I walk from Union Station to NETWORK, here on Capitol Hill. And every day, I pass homeless people who are sitting or walking with all their worldly possessions on their backs. "StreetSense" vendors wave newspapers in front of me and one man always asks, “(Do you) care to help the homeless today?” Sometimes, I see a desperate confusion in their eyes. It is as if they are asking, did my right to life terminate at my birth? I wonder. It is not lost on me that, but for a mere accident of birth, I could be that hungry, homeless person. I could be the woman whose request for help is met with a disgusted shake of the head or unstated accusations of drug addiction, mental illness or laziness. As I walk away, I ask God, why? Why doesn’t anyone care to help the homeless today?
I am a Catholic Sister who has made no bones about it: I oppose mandated insurance coverage for all FDA-approved contraception for every employer, regardless of their affiliation and beliefs. I, with so many others, beseeched the bishops and the administration to keep open the dialog. I prayed that they would find common ground that would allow for one’s right to conscience and another’s right to healthcare. Then the DHHS announced an accommodation and left the door open for more discussion with religious leaders. But for pride, that should have aborted the animosity and rigidity surrounding the issue. An appropriate balance of competing rights could have been struck.
Imagine. Politicians and religious leaders could have moved on to address the rights of all people along the spectrum of life. They could have answered the call to pursue avenues that might feed the millions of hungry people, clothe the naked and shelter the homeless. They could have cared to help the homeless today; but, again, this did not happen. No, as the eyes of the homeless reveal, there is not sufficient outrage for the deprivation of the rights of these children of God.
Instead, there has been a maelstrom of arguments espousing violations of “religious freedom and liberty” and the “right” to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. On one side, political candidates fuel the issue for political gain in a close race while some religious leaders overemphasize the constraint and misstate the actual mandate to garner more vocal opposition. On the other side, the administration seems to have retreated into silence to fortress themselves against the onslaught of political and religious attacks. It has become a political Hatfields versus McCoys while the real issue, one of conscience, has been bastardized and trivialized for the desire to win.
We have lost focus. The right to life is vital to our being but it does not end at birth. The DHHS and the administration had given promise of flexibility and demonstrated an appreciation for religious conscience. So, dear leaders and politicians, I respectfully say to you, grow up! Even if you believe there is a war between evil and good, you must take care not enjoy the fight too much. Stop waging war in the newspapers and try to meet with each other in a spirit of reason and respect.
Finally, exercise the statesmanship and reverence for all life that befit your positions. Only then will you be able to muster up the appropriate moral outrage for the deprivations that occur after the children are born into a hungry, cold and dispossessed world. Please, care enough to help those who are poor and homeless TODAY!