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CURMUDGEONRY
Lazarus at the Gates
Somebody somewhere should help.

by Barnabas
October 2, 2002

Lazarus at the Gates_Barnabas-Somebody somewhere should help.
“But you were always a good man of business, Jacob," faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.
"Business!" cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. "Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!"

--Scrooge and Marley’s Ghost, in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

The dogs came and licked his sores, and no one gave him anything. –Luke 16.

“Somebody somewhere should help."
-- The head of the Ukrainian border guard, on the plight of refugees detained in The Ukraine. (Reported by Peter Baker in The Washington Post, September 28)
To a bleeding heart like me, they are refugees; to national governments, they are illegal immigrants; to the satisfied majorities in the rich nations, they are saps who should have known enough to stay in their countries of origin where they belong, unless they qualify for emigration. After all, that is what our ancestors did, stayed contentedly entrapped in the class system and violence of post-Renaissance Europe. Right?

The report from the Ukraine is shocking, but no surprise. The refugees do not want to remain in the Ukraine, of course; they were headed for the rich nations of Europe and America, some of them to join family members already there.

The Ukrainians were between a rock and hard place. If they turned a blind eye and let the refugees cross to their destinations, they would provoke the outrage of their rich trading partners in Europe; if they caught the refugees, as they did, they could afford neither to care for them nor to return them home. Stalin would have solved the problem by shooting the unwanted guests, but the world is now too “moral” for that ourtcome. So the futile word goes out, “Somebody somewhere should help.”

Yes, there are private agencies risking lives and spending millions in an attempt to help the wretched, of whom these refugees are but representatives. The efforts come to naught without the direct power and authority of the rich nations to see to it that the help is delivered instead of preempted by corrupt governments and warlords along the way.

The rich nations are too preoccupied, fixated as they are on protecting their own “way of life”, by devising the most efficient defensive means of killing people. Bad Guys use poison, which is evil; the moral way is to shoot them or blow them up by dropping bombs on them. (We say “No fair!” to suicide bombers.) In the priorities of national governments like our own, offering real help to the wretched and desperate is, comparatively speaking, more of a sentiment than a strategy.

If we’re in the story that Jesus told about the Rich Man and Lazarus, we’re obviously living in the Rich Man’s house—an uncomfortable place to be, because the Rich Man ended up in Hell. As far as that goes, so did Marley in The Christmas Carol.

Scrooge was on his way there unless he shaped up fast.

About the Author:
Barnabas doesn't know for sure whether The Partial Observer is post-modern, or whether that is passe. He knows for sure that he is neither post-modern nor passe.


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