Once, about 10 minutes before service was to start, a church member came up to me, with broom in hand, and said (with a proud smile on his face), “I just wanted you to know that there was a homeless man hanging around the parking lot, so I kicked him out of the church.”
I’ll never forget the phrase “kicked him out of the church” and the smile on this person’s face. And the broom. Did he use the broom to chase the man away…?
And it was like he was expecting a reward or a prize — like when a cat brings you a dead bird as a symbol of how much the cat tolerates you.
I looked at him and said, “Dude. Just think about where you’re at and what you just said” and ran off to the parking lot to try to apologize. But the houseless man was nowhere to be found.
People seem to have a difficult time standing with the poor.
Sometimes, it seems we simply despise the poor.
We tend to be biased towards the rich; more favorable towards the powerful. Maybe because it’s what we strive for; what our dreams are made up of, being rich.
And the poor reminds us of where we do not want to be and/or our current reality.
We would even rather side with (evil) corporations and slander the common people than speak ill of corporations.
Do you remember the McDonald’s lawsuit?
You know, the one with the hot coffee? It was a while ago (1994, I believe) but take a moment to think about what you recall from the lawsuit?
It’s generally remembered by (most) as a frivolous lawsuit where a person sued a corporation over some nonsense that was the customer’s fault and this story is often used to highlight how quick we are to sue over nonsensical thing.
Is that how you remembered the story (assuming you’re old enough to remember it)?
That’s because McDonald’s went out of their way to slander Stella Liebeck.
They painted her as a dumb customer that didn’t understand that coffee was hot and someone who was trying to scam the good-to-honest McDonald’s corporation.
What’s forgotten is at the time McDonald’s served their coffee at 190 degrees — which is hot enough to leave 3rd degree burns in just 3 seconds of contact. McDonalds knew this but decided to keep it that hot because it had a longer shelf life than the standard temperature of coffee (160 degrees). They decided that burn-related lawsuits would cost less money than wasting coffee that wasn’t good anymore.
Basically, they risked giving people 3rd degree burns for the sake of saving money.
That’s when Stella Liebeck received 3rd degree burns on about 16% of her body and nearly died from the shock. As you’re wanting to fact check this story, I advise you — please, please, please do not search for the pictures of her injuries. It’s not only NSFW (not safe for work) but NSFL (not safe for life).
What Stella Liebeck literally wanted was McDonalds to pay $20,000 to cover medical bills because she was poor and medicaid wouldn’t cover the bills.
She was 79 years old at the time of the incident and she was partially disabled for 2 full years because she went into shock after being burned so badly. Her daughter said she passed in 2004 with no quality of life due to the incident. $20,000 to cover 8 days of hospital stay; skin graph; lost of compensation for daughter who took care of her around the clock.
And McDonalds, saying that fast food is hot and one should be aware of that, used the media to paint her as a gold digger; a greedy scammer; someone out for a payday.
OH. This was after McDonalds had about 700 burn related lawsuits against them.
She ended up being awarded nearly 3 million in damages because the jury was upset with the lack of remorse the corporation showed. One of the jurors said over the course of the trial he came to realize the case was about “callous disregard for the safety of the people.” Another juror said “the facts were so overwhelmingly against the company.”
Too many people remember this story from the side of the corporation.
And too many Christians, rather than caring for the poor as God commanded, disdain the poor.
Am often reminded of the words of Fr. Greg Boyle:
To be in the world who God is.
Here is what we seek: a compassion that can stand in awe at what the poor have to carry rather than stand in judgment at how they carry it.
How many typos and grammatical mistakes did you find?
Apologies for the lack of self-editing. Hopefully you were able to get what I meant to say and not what I actually wrote. Thanks for reading!