Remember when you saw a group gathered together on the school playground that surrounded a kid. You rushed over to them because it looked like something exciting was happening. You were not scared, because you were not the center of attention. You could be anomyous, except for the friends that might have been there.
The girl at the center of all this attention was terrified. She deserved it, didn’t she? After all, she wore glasses, or maybe it was that she was overweight, or maybe it was that she said that she liked someone that everyone knew was a loser. The older kids, or maybe a leader your age, were only telling this kid what she needed to know, or perhaps ridiculed her or even stomped on her hard.
Many laughed. Pointed. Watched. Fun for some. Fear for others. But a deep satisfaction was fed, a deep down revulsion was experienced. She could have been your sister.
His mind was crowded with memories; memories of the knowledge that had come to them when they closed in on the struggling pig, knowledge that they had outwitted a living thing, imposed their will upon it, taken away its life like a long satisfying drink. (Jack in Lord of the Flies by William Golding)
But those were children, they didn’t know any better. They were lead into poor behavior by bad kids. We are all grown up now. We have families and responsibilities and ideals. We better understand what we can do to make life better for everyone. We are inclusive and non-discriminatory, and free to live as we want. We have jobs now. Maybe in business or entertainment or as government employees. Maybe elected officials, maybe even the highest elected official. The important thing is that we are now adults and can order society as we know it should be ordered. It can be done as long as that nasty old court system or Congress or those religious nuts won’t try to stop us. We have a pen and a phone, don’t we?
I would add that we also have the power to regulate.
The Little Sisters of the Poor
This congregation of religious women was founded by St. Jeanne Jugan who was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009. Founded in France by a young girl who lived a peasant’s life minus a father, she grew up in the revolutionary period, late 18th and early 19th century, when religion was violently purged from France. With the emergence of the Emperor Napoleon, the Church regained some of its former place in society, and after a few years of following her call she was honored in 1845 with the Montyon Prize, a prestigious award given by the French Academy for meritorious work.
St. Jeanne worked at various jobs as a young adult; kitchen help, hospital work, always menial jobs for other people. Then as the history of the congregation reads:
Everything changes one night in the winter of 1839—we don’t know the exact date—when she cannot resist the sight of a blind, paralyzed old woman out in the cold with no one to care for her. Jeanne carries the old woman home and places her in her own bed. From that night on, Jeanne Jugan belongs to God and to the elderly of the whole world.
The work develops quickly. More old women are brought to her doorstep. Jeanne and her companions—one older woman and several pious young girls—offer them hospitality and care for them as if they were their own grandmothers. Giving the best place to the old women, they sleep on the attic floor.
By the 1950s the Congregation has 52 homes for the aged across the United States. With the passage of the Life Safety Code and the dawn of nursing home regulations in the 1960s, nearly all the homes must be replaced. Some are combined, others closed, but many are rebuilt.
How Do They Exist?
To provide for the needs of the aged poor, Saint Jeanne Jugan walked the roads of Brittany seeking alms. Knocking on doors, she asked for money and gifts in kind—whatever was needed for her poor. She was recognized by the begging basket she carried.
To an impatient benefactor who asked her why she burdened herself with all those old people, Jeanne replied, “We shall share them, Sir. You will provide for them and I will care for their needs.”
So trusting was Jeanne in the Providence of God and the goodness of others that, in her old age, she intervened at a decisive moment in our history to ensure that the Congregation would never accept guaranteed forms of income. To do so, she felt, would betray our trust in Providence. That is why, to this day, we do not accept endowments, perpetual trusts and other forms of permanent income.
Just as Jeanne was recognized by her begging basket, today’s collecting Little Sisters are known by the van in which they make their daily rounds, visiting businesses and markets asking for food and other commodities to help offset our operating expenses. These Little Sisters carry on the tradition of begging so dear to our foundress. As government funds continue to dwindle it is getting harder and harder to make ends meet. Medicaid and Medicare cover only about 60 percent of our operating expenses. In today’s economy, we must count on community support more than ever.
This Is America Isn’t It?
The Duke of Norfolk: Why do you insult me with this lawyer’s chatter?
Sir Thomas More: Because I am afraid.
The Duke of Norfolk: Man, you’re ill. This isn’t Spain, you know. This is England.
(King Henry VIII v. St. Thomas More – A Man For All Seasons)
Do you recall the Supreme Court Dred Scott v. Sanford decision of the 19th Century, which declared that even a man forcibly removed from his home country and forced to spend his life in a foreign land in slavery could not obtain freedom under the laws of several states and the federal government. The law became a complex wrap of chains that preserved what was established and desirable for the few in power.
The opposite situation is true of the more recent Supreme Court case, NFIB v. Sebelius in 2012. Here we have the highest court of the land deciding that a new form of persecution should be supported instead of an old form being upheld. It is true that this case it is not as severe as the Dred Scott case, but Scott is an example that after decades of American law that protected the slave trade culminating in predominate social and legal acceptance until the Civil War. We can observe a trend and purpose when we examine those historical slave laws and societal norms. We can see the same kind of trending today in law and societal trends. Will it progress to the severity as did the purges of Old England and those of 20th century Europe?
The court decided that:
…the Government argues that if the commerce power does not support the mandate, we should nonetheless uphold it as an exercise of Congress’s power to tax. According to the Government, even if Congress lacks the power to direct individuals to buy insurance, the only effect of the individual mandate is to raise taxes on those who do not do so, and thus the law may be upheld as a tax.
(NFIB v. Sebelius, majority opinions – emphasis mine)
This law is equivalent to the stratagem used on the famous gangsters Al Capone and Dutch Schultz. Instead of putting them in prison for their criminal activities of murder, prostitution, gambling, bootlegging, and bribery, the government gets them on tax evasion. Taxes became the catch-all when the influential want something done or Congress wants to influence social behavior, as has been the case with tax deductions.
In the above court decision “the only effect” should have been restated as, the effect only begins with the raising of taxes. It continues when the tax cannot be paid and the consequences are suffered. Is this oversight a sightlessness as to cause and effect, or was it blind support for a method to be used for social conditioning?
This expansion of federal power did not go unnoticed even in the court itself:
Whatever may be the conceptual limits upon the Commerce Clause and upon the power to tax and spend, they cannot be such as will enable the Federal Government to regulate all private conduct and to compel the States to function as administrators of federal programs.
(NFIB v. Sebelius, dissenting opinions)
If the majority on the court are sympathetic, the courts have shown support for the new understanding of how to order society by the powerful, the proper place in society for those undesirable people, those uppity people as the bigots used to say. Just be sure it is deemed to be legal. A court decision at any level does not necessarily establish truth, but it does establish the right to use force.
“Let’s Tax Then Misrepresent the Little Sisters of the Poor!” said the Schoolyard Bullies
The more than 100 lawsuits seeking an exemption from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s…mandate for insurance coverage of contraception in employee health plans are the products of a well-organized, professionally -orchestrated and heavily-financed campaign that uses religion as an excuse for discrimination and for placing business practices beyond the reach of governmental laws and regulation.
According to the National Organization for Women (NOW), the Little Sisters (who happen to be women themselves) just want to “discriminate” and not obey the law. If NOW’s logic is correct, then I presume that when NOW discriminates, or makes a distinction between organizations that agree with them and those that don’t (those that are dirty and those that are not), they need to provide us with an illegitimate reason – an excuse. In other words, in the new world order of language relativity, discriminating is used illegitimately if you chose to say so and with appropriate finger pointing.
It is well known that accusing an organization to having only an objection to contraception, contraception being widely used, will play better for reader sympathy than stating the fuller, truer objection.
Only overreaching by government is “beyond the reach” of government. The limits of reach are defined by law – just or not. As we can see, strategy and deception are tools not only used by government agencies.
This is the objection of the Little Sisters to these legal and social bullying efforts:
Each Little Sister has chosen to follow Jesus Christ by taking lifetime vows to offer the poorest elderly of every race and religion a home where they will be welcomed as if they were Jesus himself, cared for as family, and treated with dignity until God calls them to his home. Because care for the dying is a focal point of the Little Sisters’ ministry, they commit to constantly living out a witness that proclaims the unique, inviolable dignity of every person, particularly those whom others regard as weak or worthless. To guide that commitment, the Little Sisters have vowed obedience to the Pope, and thus obey the ethical teachings of the Catholic Church.
Consistent with Catholic teachings, the Christian Brothers Trust (the insurer for the sisters) does not provide and has never provided coverage for, or access to, contraception, sterilization, abortifacients, and related education and counseling. However, consistent with Catholic teachings, it does provide coverage for contraceptives prescribed by a physician for noncontraceptive purposes.
(Little Sisters of the Poor and Christian- Brothers v. Sebelius)
But now the government demands we choose between our care for the elderly poor and our faith. We cannot do that and we should not have to. It is a choice that violates our nation’s historic commitment to ensure that people from diverse faiths can freely follow God’s calling in their lives. But the government forces us to either violate our conscience or take millions of dollars that we raise by begging for the care of the elderly poor and instead pay fines to the IRS.
(Sr. Loraine Marie Maguire, Mother Provincial of the Little Sisters of the Poor)
As we progress through time from our founding as a great social experiment of self rule, having come from life in the monarchies of Europe, will we in giving up the most valuable thing we brought over with us, Christianity and it’s moral precepts, actually progress into the future? Or, shall we ask as Piggy asked – and who will we ask?
We did everything adults would do. What went wrong? (Lord of the Flies by William Golding)
Photography: Kelli Ann Cresswell