Tuesday, July 26, 2011

you always have the poor with you

Jesus said, "For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them; but you do not always have Me" (Mark 14:7).

It seems to me that our churches (in "our" I include constituents of the mid- to upper-class Western church). have a problem; namely, the poor are not with us. It's not that we intentionally avoid the poor (although that certainly is the reality in some cases), but rather that we do not intentionally seek out the poor.
Yes, many of the passages that have been mis-interpreted to form a doctrine of "social justice" are meant to apply to service of the poor within the Body of Christ. Yet how can we legitimately fulfill these commands if the poor are not with us? Can we legitimately call ourselves the Body? Our society has divided rich and poor by class, and divided class by geography. There's little interaction.
Now, I don't want to suggest that there is some conspiracy among GPS navigation programmers to keep the rich disconnected from the sights and sounds and smells of the American ghetto, but consider this personal anecdote:
Several weeks ago I was driving back to my apartment from the west, approaching Rochester on 490. There are two primary routes which I could take: around the city on the highway, or through the city (one of the highest crime areas). The highway or the hood. I generally choose to go through the city, preferring the more direct route. On this occasion, I had my phone's GPS navigation on, and it told me to take the highway. I decided to experiment. As I approached the exit my phone indicated it would take 15 minutes to reach home. I passed the exit, intending to take my normal city route. The computerized female voice said, "recalculating" in the most condescending tone imaginable ("you went the wrong way, you idiot"). The recalculation occured quickly and suggested that I get off at the next exit (less than 1/4 mile) and turn around. Now it would take me  16 minutes. I ignored that direction as well, and again heard "recalculating." This time, it showed my chosen route through the city, and predicted that it would take 11 minutes.

The whole incident occurred within a single minute of driving time. And I have to wonder, if my GPS is set to pick the fastest route, why didn't it take me through the city in the first place? Is it programmed to naturally avoid less savory neighborhoods?


Belinda said...

this is very interesting. I remember you telling me that about your gps, but didn't look at it in this light. Interesting

Elliot said...

It's probably just programmed to prefer highways, since they're generally easier and the estimated times are more accurate since traffic lights can cause huge variances in travel time.

Matt said...

@Elliot - agreed. I just found it humorous. The first 3 paragraphs are the point ;)