Over the past few weeks, the world, and especially India, was in danger of losing a woman of great love and decency, Mother Teresa. Those who share themselves or their money with those in need contribute much to the well-being of us all. Yet, in the past few years, I have been startled to hear people bashing Mother Teresa. Rather than noting all of the good she does, they sneer about the Roman Catholic Church she so beautifully represents.
The theory seems to be that since the church accepts contributions, it is therefore responsible for world poverty. Similarly, since it defends the unborn from abortion, it is consequently responsible for illegitimate children in America. It is sadly ironi c that Mother Teresa, who has renounced wealth to serve the people many would scorn, is associated with this gross distortion.
It is essential to stop maligning those with whom we disagree so that we can work constructively to find solutions to our nation's problems. It is for this reason that I am addressing anti-Catholicism, and, by extension, anti-Christianity.
I have been privileged to know hundreds of loving Christians in my nineteen years as a Catholic. These are ordinary people with faults, much like the Christians who are our classmates, professors, store clerks and bankers. Perhaps those who would be incli ned to divide our nation based on religion would instead address the root issues once they are shown the good of Christians who may have differing ideas.
As a freshman in a San Diego Catholic high school, I went to a homeless shelter with an upperclassman from a service club. I had put up with her wisecracks in grade school, and I tolerated her hideous music on the long drive to the shelter. Yet, once we g ot there, these things faded as I saw how affectionately she spoke to the people there. She was acting out of the most admirable of qualities, genuine compassion. And she is only one of many such women and men I have known personally.
Since some Christians are politically vocal, so much of what Jesus taught, namely love for others, is often considered an inconvenience in today's society. If those who believe in Christ-like compassion are muzzled, it is much easier to be apathetic to th e plight of the unborn, the elderly, the poor and the lonely if they present an obstacle, real or imagined, to their parents, their children, the rich or the popular.
This is not to say that Christians hold a monopoly on caring. It just seems that Christians are being targeted. Those who disagree with Christians are pushing to remove the tax-privileged status of churches, which is particularly offensive because it is c owardly. Rather than face those with whom they disagree on ideological footing, they want to take away Christians' voices so that non-Christian positions will appear superior. And to make it worse, some of the money churches would surrender in taxes could go to pay for things that they find morally offensive, such as abortions.
What anti-Christians fail to take into account when they attack us is the bond Christians share with each other. Some of my best memories of my small Catholic grade school in San Diego are of the Christmas program we would put on each year. In order for t his program to succeed, everyone, from the principal and pastor, all the way to the youngest kindergartner and the most absent parishioner, had to give a little. The music teacher would spend hours a day for three weeks arranging us into rows and trying t o get us all to sing the same words at the same time. It was often excruciating, but in the end, there were two hundred of us in uniform singing the beautiful songs of the Nativity to a church full of supportive and happy parents and parishioners.
To me, the thought of a world dominated by such scenes of caring and sharing is very hopeful. It seems rather strange that anyone would object to people loving those like them and almost everyone else, too. Truly, it makes me wonder what those who fear su ch compassion desire for our world.
Kristen Roberts is an Arts and Sciences sophomore. Her column, 'Life in Balance,' appears every other Thursday. Her homepage can be found at http://www.u.arizona.edu/~knr.