The most significant measure of the greatness of a society is the manner in which it takes care of its most vulnerable persons. Period.
You can tell the moral depth of a people by the way they care for children, the poor, the sick, the homeless, and, to use the moral mantra of the Old Testament, “the widow, orphan, and foreigner.”
As we engage our election cycle, there are many criteria proposed for making decisions. Some focus on questions like these.
Who will provide security?
Who will keep the economy strong?
Who will reduce the deficit?
Who will keep taxes low?
Who will protect healthcare? Jobs? Fundamental rights?
Those are good questions. And each of them begs a follow up question: For whom? On whom are we focused when we ask about security, economy, taxes, healthcare, work, rights?
Our tendency is toward selfishness: Who will take care of me in each of these areas?
But that is not the way that a follower of Jesus can decide about voting — not based on selfish benefits. The follower of Jesus has a clear criteria for voting, and here it is: “Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4).
When voting, the first mountain to climb as a follower of Jesus is to recognize our tendency to selfishness. The second one is deciding to vote for the benefit of the most vulnerable rather than for one’s self. The third task is figuring out which candidates will benefit more of the neediest people of our society and our world. That is a very difficult task. But not impossible.
Perhaps it helps to ask questions like these.
Which candidates will increase the security of the most vulnerable around us?
Who will create an economy that makes sure no one goes hungry or gets left behind?
Who will prioritize spending on the neediest around us, even if some of us have to pay more taxes when we can?
What candidates are more likely to provide healthcare for the most vulnerable populations?
Who will prioritize job creation at livable wages and affordable housing?
Who will make sure the basic right to pursue happiness is guaranteed for the neediest among us?
As I look at candidates in various races this year, I’m asking: Where will they fight to stop injustice? How will they help the helpless?