We all have people that we do not know, but admire immensely. One of mine is Paul Farmer who is a medical physician in the fields of internal medicine and infectious diseases from Harvard. He has a PhD from Harvard in medical anthropology. He is chair of the Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard’s Medical School. He is brilliant and has a deep commitment to the poor of the world. He started and continues to work in Partners in Health.
We were given a book about Paul Farmer, Mountains Beyond Mountains (author Tracy Kidder) by a dear friend, Al Jenkins. After reading it I felt so guilty because I had not done in Nicaragua what he had done in Haiti.
By the way, Mike helped me get over that guilt.
I realized I have not the brains nor the resources that he does, but I do have his writings and books. His writings help me focus the vision of the clinic on what is important.
One of the core principles of Farmer’s life is POP! as he calls the Preferential Option for the Poor. Farmer was a lapsed Catholic who began reading the teachings of Father Gustavo Gutierrez regarding liberation theology which stresses liberation from economic, social and political oppression as a way to bring ultimate salvation to all. From this theology Farmer started implementing liberation and POP! into his medicine and work.
Many years ago, we sat together as a community and talked about what we believed. The Preferential Option for the Poor was a belief that we all held. We believed that we are called to address the needs of the poor way before addressing the desires of the rich. We believed that the Divine has a special love for the poor and the oppressed. We believed that the Bible is filled with passages calling for social justice for the vulnerable.
I have heard Christians say, “God takes care of His own.” Are the poor not God’s children as well?
Liberation theology and the Preferential Option for the Poor stand at a juxtaposition with Prosperity Christianity or the idea that God blesses His own with riches.
I have heard Christians say, “I believe that God loves us all the same. He does not love the poor more.”
If you are a parent, you know you love your children the same. But if you are a parent and one child is suffering and the other siblings are not relieving the suffering then you will advocate and help the suffering child more than the others… because the need is greater. And the siblings not helping the one suffering will break a parent’s heart.
Again, are not the poor God’s children as well?
Whether you are an atheist or theist of any kind, there is a common blood in all of us that makes us one family. And in healthy families or clans we stand with each other and help each other. Dysfunctional families hurt, harm, and shut out their members.
Having the Preferential Option for the Poor… addressing the needs of the poor as a priority of faith or a priority of society, economy, and politics will heal our world. It is a belief that anyone can take.
In the Assembly of People Into Giving a Sh*t, we hold firmly to the belief and creed that the poor have to take priority. We work for a world where the poor are cared for, because we are part of that world.
We do this because if our own children… say our son, Daniel and his family, were poor - and we could not help - we would want people to make the world right for them to live with their needs met. If our son, Coury and his family, were hungry we would want others to give them food. If our son, Joseph and his love, were homeless we would want someone to provide them a place to live. If our daughter, Jessica and her children, were taken captive, we would want the world to move heaven and earth to free them. If our son, Tiff and his wife, were sick, we would want society to provide them with health care. If our Community’s daughters, Eibhlín, Orla, and Samantha, were limited in their options because of their sex and/or race, we would want marches and demonstrations of millions to make the laws that will protect them.
In the Assembly of PIGS, all people are ONE family and POP! is a creed to live by.