Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Seven Acts Revisted

It is election day. I am a little nervous about it because the Democrats seem so confident that I’m afraid their constituents won’t go and vote. Of course, I am also afraid that the machines are as corrupt as the system – but we live in the Washington Metropolitan area where the governor of Maryland refuses to use the machines and has encouraged everyone to vote by absentee ballot so there will be a record. Is that not amazing? In this day and age, how can there not be a paper record that corresponds to the electronic vote. But then in Alexandria they couldn’t figure out how to put Webb’s entire name on the ballot—what else do you need to know? I’ll get back to this.

Anyway, David spent last week shooting a story about the seven corporal acts of mercy. Never heard of them, well not enough people have. He wrote about it in a recent blob. When he mentioned that he was going to cover this story, I thought it was going to be a story about Jewish women not using their husband’s credit cards on seven occasions. OK I’m kidding and I was wrong. It was a story about some students, mostly male, at a Catholic high school in Cleveland who have taken it upon themselves to act as pallbearers for the funerals of strangers. These were people who were so old that all their friends and family had died, or they were so poor they couldn’t afford a funeral. I was astounded. Isn’t it wonderful, I thought, that there are children in this school, in this country, who have such a sense of duty, of civility, and of concern for people they do not even know. And isn’t it shameful that we are surprised by this kind of a generous spirit.

Being of the Jewish persuasion I thought the concept was a Catholic thing. So I did very little research but I found that the first record of the seven acts are described in Isaiah 58 and in Matthew 25. And I suppose a number of other scriptural places. The physical acts are:
• To feed the hungry;
• to give drink to the thirsty;
• to clothe the naked;
• to shelter the homeless;
• to visit the sick;
• to visit those in prison;
• to bury the dead.

In my reading I found that there are an additional seven that involve spiritual and emotional needs:
• To instruct the ignorant;
• to counsel the doubtful;
• to admonish the sinner;
• to comfort the sorrowful;
• to forgive injuries;
• to bear wrongs patiently;
• to pray for the living and the dead.

If you think about these 14 items you will recognize a little something from every religion, so why don’t the synagogues, mosques, and the churches use these as a road map for the way people should live. If asked I’m sure they would say they do but if they did, the world would surely be a different place. At least it might.

Back to the election. It occurs to me that candidates should also use these 14 items as a road map- for their campaigns as well as the way they govern. In fact, there should be a law that before anyone runs for office they have to serve the public in some capacity that reflects at least the first seven corporal acts. And if they want to get reelected they must demonstrate, in some way, the additional seven. Just think about the difference in the way people would campaign. Just think about the absence of ugly and the presence of compassion—and not conservative compassion.

I don’t know what the results of the election will be but I do know that the seven corporal acts shouldn’t just be a story. It should be a way of life. We’re just sayin...

1 comment:

Walter Briggs said...

We are taught to do for others, and pray for our enemies. The first part is always the easiest for me.