AT CHRISTMAS: THE VALUE OF EACH LIFE
By Jill Cohen Walker, J.D.
It’s almost Christmas again. I haven’t written for a long time and perhaps that’s a good thing. Today, however, I was mulling over the true meaning of this overly commercialized Holy Day that traumatizes the ACLU and I found myself bogged down over some personal events that have taken place over the past few months. Then the proverbial light bulbs all came on at the same time. I realized that each of us, no matter how much we don’t want to admit it, are and probably always have been measured by our financial worth, not on the substance of who we are as uniquely and individually created human beings. Many are, sad to say, despicable respecters of persons, in contravention to the Scriptures. Let’s start with the so-called professionals. Here’s a few examples . . .
Politicians, especially career politicians, measure your worth by the donations you make to their campaigns, their PAC funds, or whatever special interest group they “sponsor.” If you don’t have a lot of loose cash to donate, you’re toast. They won’t know or care who you are, and they certainly won’t do much to help you in a crunch. You are nothing more than the value of your donation check.
Lawyers, even the bleeding heart liberals, measure an individual’s worth by the amount of money they stand to make if they win the case. They don’t see us as hurting people who need an advocate—the best one didn’t even have to take a bar exam—but as sources of income. I discovered this truth while searching for an attorney for two years. Not one would touch my case because there wasn’t enough monetary return. In cases where the lawyer demands a hefty retainer, most common folks don’t qualify for the attorney’s services.
Don’t get me wrong. A “worker is worthy of his hire.” The problem is that most lawyers see things in terms of exaggerated dollars and cents. They don’t see someone who has been wronged, betrayed, or in need of pure and unadulterated legal expertise.
Doctors are another good example. The surgeon will dispose of you in a heartbeat if you don’t need costly and/or long-term care. Minor surgeries aren’t as profitable, although some surgeons will make that small procedure bigger than it really is to increase the cost or do lots of them to rake in the cash. One doctor in my area screamed at the medical group’s public relations maven that he needed more surgeries. The man makes oodles of money, but he wanted her to go out and find new patients that would increase his already hefty bottom line. She quit her job because she couldn’t look for “surgeries,” she could only lead hurting human beings to those she thought were good doctors.
The orthopedist only cares about damaged or broken bones because that’s what pays his/her bills. Sprains, strains, torn ligaments and the like can be just as serious, but the orthopedist doesn’t deal as well with subjective injuries. Nope . . . s/he wants only the objective injuries because that’s where the real money is.
The pain management (a true oxymoron) doctor thrives on your pain. Most keep you waiting forever to be seen so that by the time it’s your turn to kvetch, you really do need his/her services. I’ve seen dozens of pharmaceutical reps visit a pain management doctor’s office with all kinds of “magic bullets.” However, what most folks don’t know is that once you’re out of pain, you cease to be a cash cow for the doctor. You only have to go once a month to get your prescriptions renewed; and the pharmaceutical companies have your loyalty because they stopped your pain while making you a drug addict. Your pain is their constant flow of cash, but no one fixes the problem that causes the pain in the first place.
Medicine, like politics and law, has become big business and the one with the most amount of money, the best insurance, the most impressive malpractice case . . . you get the point . . . is the one who’s going to get the help s/he needs. Everyone else, especially those with no medical insurance, might as well go home on account of rain ‘cause the game’s been called. Individually, you don’t matter one flip to the politicians, the lawyers, or the doctors, which is why so many of us join like-minded, religious, social or political groups. It’s not just safety in numbers; it’s the power of the numbers that we need. Unfortunately, our individuality—that uniqueness built into us by our Creator—often gets lost in the process.
The same is true for big business. In the movie Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts goes with a wad of money to several clothing stores on the famous Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Naturally, she is shunned because her appearance loudly announces her profession. Well, you don’t have to be Julia Roberts to have it happen to you. Several decades before the movie, I experimented and walked into a flashy Manhattan boutique dressed in jeans and an army jacket. I wasn’t in that store for 30 seconds when the manager told me they had nothing in my then size seven. She assumed I had no money, or at least not the amount required to shop in that store. I thought there was plenty for me to buy, but she just ushered me out the door. I did my shopping that day in Bloomingdales and had a wonderful time. Truth is, if I tried the same experiment today, it would be no different. I’d probably be classified as a “bag lady,” not a qualified shopper. Maybe that’s why so many shop at Wal-Mart. No one cares what you look like there. They just want your money.
Restaurants are much the same. I’ve been watching a restaurant worker give food away to a passel of customers for two years—the customers with money who can do her favors. What’s odd is they know she’s stealing from the corporation (as are they), but do it anyway; when they hand her cash, it goes into her pocket. Oddly, those in corporate knows she’s been doing this and don’t care. Why should they? They can write it off as loss with the IRS based on spoilage or donation. The rest of us pay for our food because it’s the right thing to do. Besides, we’re not part of her in-crowd.
That does bring to mind another issue with restaurants. Servers think they know which customers have money and which ones don’t. The service you get will depend on the tip they’ve projected in their minds. You are not a customer to be served properly; you are a bottom line, a dollar amount at the end of the meal. The smart servers don’t take that chance. They’ve learned that the best tips come from some unlikely places.
But human worth and human value are also determined by your ultimate cash value. At the local Panera Bread, conversation between customers is quite normal, although most of us have isolated ourselves in little boxes to avoid contact with other humanoids. I’ve chatted with several customers while there eating and reading. Most have been as gracious to me as I’ve been to those who want to chat when all I really want to do is read.
The other day I found out my worth to the bagel shop—zip, zero, zilch. The manager, who knows me quite well, told me I was annoying a couple who are nearer and dearer to his wallet than I am. It’s true. I don’t spend as much as “Harry” and “Sheila,” who are allegedly born-again Christians. The manager’s message to me was a lovely Christmas present. I wept as Jesus wept for what’s become of humanity and wonder if there’s any humanity left in us.
Call me ditzy and color me stupid, but a simple “hello” or a short passing chat shouldn’t disturb anyone unless you’re afraid that a single woman wants your “Prince Charming,” which is repulsive to even contemplate. And if it’s really peace and quite you want, don’t go to a busy fast-food restaurant with a line to the door and incessant music. It isn’t going to happen. (For me, a 15- or 20-minute stay is long enough. In fact, a friend who was in the restaurant business just told me that seating is designed for how long the restaurant wants guests to stay. Those uncomfortable chairs are there for a reason: to get you in and out quickly so they make more money.)
Listen, it’s almost Christmas and we’ve pushed, shoved, haggled, and carried on since Thanksgiving while shopping for gifts that are supposed to say, “Hey, I really do care about you. You matter to me.” But while shopping, everyone is a John or Jane Doe—a nameless and faceless entity with the all-important plastic or cash in their wallets. Well, try this one on and see how it fits. The only mention of “making merry” and “giving gifts one to the other” is in Revelation when the two witnesses for God are killed and left to rot in the street for three days. Those who side with evil will do just that—make merry and give each other gifts because the two won’t bother them anymore. Sounds like “Harry” and “Sheila” would handle that scenario quite well.
So here’ my bottom line: We’d better get back to some basics. That baby born in the manger is easy to embrace. But the fully God, fully man Savior who died for our sins set the standard for how we are to treat one another, and it isn’t based on the size our bank accounts or the amount of wealth we’ve accrued. God is not a respecter of persons. He loved the whole world so much; He gave his uniquely begotten Son to die for us. I just hope He returns soon . . . before humanity, which has lost much of its humanity, perishes by its own hand.
© 2007 - Jill Cohen Walker - All Rights Reserved
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Jill Cohen Walker earned a BA from Goddard College in 1977, a JD from Franklin Pierce Law Center in 1980, and an MS in journalism at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 1999. A freelance writer for fifteen years, she has written numerous articles for tech magazines and newspapers, and co-authored a book on hiring practices in the printing industry.
She taught Social Studies for one year in a northern middle school, and medical-legal and bio-medical courses in the Allied Health division of a local community college for four years. A student of legal history and the US Constitution, she began to study current events and Bible prophecies in March 1985. Her deep interest in and awareness of American politics started during the 2000 elections when she realized the prophetic time clock was ticking fast. She is the co-author of the novel "The Call to Prayer". (www.thecalltoprayer.net).
almost Christmas again. I haven’t written for a long time and perhaps
that’s a good thing. Today, however, I was mulling over the true meaning
of this overly commercialized Holy Day that traumatizes the ACLU...