Baa baa black sheep, have you any wool?
Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full.
One for the master, one for the dame.
One for the little boy who lives down the lane.
This simple rhyme has fascinated and haunted me for the past three weeks. After some reflection, these three questions came to mind:
Do each one of us really receive one full bag of wool?
Do we acknowledge a common human destiny, with differing understandings of realizing it?
Are the roads we travel smooth and straight forward? Or are some crooked and rugged, leading us to dead-end streets?
These reflections are not intended to glorify the conditions of the poor, while depreciating the life styles of the rich. Let us assume that the master and the dame are materially well off, while the little boy down the lane is not.
We are all seduced by wealth. Having said this, aren’t we forced to admit this truth links us all together? We do consider material comfort and well-being high on our list of priorities. Often, we selfishly place our own creature comforts over the needs of others. When greater good demands sacrifice, it is seldom the powerful who divest themselves of privilege.
Dr. Christopher Momany said “Someone else, with fewer connections and resources takes the fall.” In fact, Archbishop Dolan of New York tried to open the eyes of a very rich Catholic laymen to this truth. He allegedly criticized Pope Francis for having a bias toward the poor — at the expense of the rich. The archbishop declared that this is just not true. Regardless of his appearances, he writes, “The Pope loves poor people and rich people. He loves all people.”
Fifty years ago, President Lyndon Johnson tried to improve the lives of all living down the lane toward a more progressive, healthier lifestyle. He initiated many federal programs that significantly improved conditions for many poor in our nation. Many of these programs are still bearing fruit.
– Between 1967 and 2012, the overall poverty rate fell from 26-16 percent.
– Childhood malnutrition has almost vanished.
– Infant mortality has been significantly reduced.
– Medicare programs for seniors have kept many elderly citizens healthy and out of poverty.
– Food stamps have allowed poor families to increase their food budgets.
Let’s go back to the three bags full. In most instances, the master and the dame received full bags. But what about the little boy who lives down the lane? Has his bag ever been full?
To the master and the dame: is it not true that some of us were born in good homes, with adequate provisions for our creaturely needs while some were not? Aren’t we all a little arrogant and elitist? Weren’t we told to avoid the likes of those who live down the dead end streets of our communities?
Dr. King said, “We were all made in the image of God. We’ve got to work together and live like brothers or die like fools.”
But how can this be accomplished? Suffice it to say we have a long way to go, to create an equal playing field for all in this nation.
Rev. Joseph L. Roberts, Jr.