Last week I finally came around. I said I’d take care of emptying the cat box each day. My wife had been doing it. Why? Why should I begin to do it? Perhaps it is the lowliest task in our house. Perhaps I have to too often assumed the highest status.

One of my current goals is to make sure my wife feels as important as possible, as important as she is.

What seems to be important to much of the world is the issue of who is important. Who gets what they want? Who does the world revolves around? Who does the nation revolve around? Who does the business revolve around? Who does the family revolve around? Who do I revolve around? Myself? You?

For too long I have too often revolved around myself. I’m working on changing that. I’m working on putting other people first. Why? This is one of the keys to a better world. This is one of the things that wisdom teaches us to do — to count others better than ourselves.

Roles, titles, status, patriarchy, primogenitor, pecking order, gender, race, socioeconomic class, geography – all seem to determine importance in our world.

The problem is epidemic. A person in New York may look down on a person from Mississippi. A person in Shanghai may tend to look down on a person from Canton. Shiite may despise Sunni. Perhaps the Catholic looks down on the Protestant. Perhaps the cab driver despises the businessman, or the businessman the cab driver. Male lords it over female. Bosses dominate workers. Liberals despise conservatives and vice versa.

It’s interesting, but it seems that everybody has some kind a need to look down on somebody, and perhaps up to somebody else. No matter how much we tout the need for social equality, we seem set on the purveyance of inequality, preference, bias and privilege.

The world is crying out for justice. The world is crying out for attention to the underprivileged, the needy, the hungry, the broken, the poor. Many of us simply ignored such looked-down-ons or blame such ones for their status, for their own situation. We look out for ourselves, not others.

Considered poverty for example. The world revolves around the rich. It does not revolve around the poor. The rich are important. The poor are not. Is this right? Is this fair? If it is not right, then who is responsible to change it? Who has the power to change it?

Businessman Pete Kadens recently announced that he will pay college tuition, room and board, books and fees for the seniors at Scott High School in Toledo, Ohio. He will be spending about $3 million to send the students to college. He will also pay for one of their parents to attend college.

He said it wasn’t a gift. He said it was his responsibility. His parents set him up to go to college; he feels it is only right for him to set others up to gain the same opportunity. This brings up the issue. What is our responsibility to create equality, to put others first, to make other people besides our self important?

The question rings through the ages, “Am I my brothers keeper? The answer is, “Yes.”

I heard the other day that perhaps as many is 1/5 of our preschoolers in the United States live below the level of poverty. What a shame. How hard that is on them and their single moms. Are those preschoolers responsible for that? Can they change their status? Perhaps when they get older they can, but certainly not as preschoolers. One way we could change that is to put politicians in power who care about this issue. How do we help moms in such situations train, get good jobs, kick bad habits, stop making poor decisions, take responsibility for their households?

A few years ago my wife and I decided to pay the tuition of some students in Tijuana to go to school. Without such help they could not get an eduction. It is a small thing, but it matters. It is one small way we can give importance to someone who has very little. We were inspired to do so my friend that teaches at the school.

In 2019, some 70 percent of the world’s poor lived in Africa, up from 50 percent five years ago. Do people born in Africa choose to be born in Africa? Do children born in Mexico in the shanty towns of Tijuana choose to be born there, born in tin and tire sheds to parents with no money?

Poverty is often caused by forces beyond the poor’s control, a lack of education, systemic racism, being born into a culture of poverty and illiteracy. Great forces like overpopulation, epidemic diseases such as malaria and environmental problems such as lack of rainfall cause poverty.

I think it’s reasonable and responsible for each of us to ask what we can do. What is our responsibility? Why do we have what we have and what is our responsibility in using it?

There’s a tendency to think that such overwhelming problems cannot be addressed at our level. That’s not true. While it may take the force of institutions such as education and business and government to make significant changes, we can vote those into power who have a heart for the marginalized, lowly and oppressed. But do we do that? Do we vote for those with big hearts? Do we vote for those who are full of love? Are we voting for those who will empower the least among us. Or are we only voting for those who will retain our power, protect our power, increase our power?

I’m not talking about voting for those who simply give handouts. I’m talking about voting for those who have solutions to empower people to be responsible for themselves.

But we can do things on our own too. Changes can take place in our own homes within the ranking of the family members. Who gets to decide? Who gets to talk? It’s possible to be a snoutband and not even realize it, talking over other people, interrupting other people, always having the say, the final word.

Needed changes can take place at work, with how people are treated there. Do we come alongside those who struggle or do we simply criticized him or fire them?

Such changes to bring about opportunity equality can take place when we eat out, how we tip or treat those who wait on us. Needed changes can take place in what we do with our money and how much of it we are giving to help others.

I think of Jesus. He said, “Blessed are the merciful!” Approved are those who care for the sick, feed the poor and visit those in prison. I think of Amos. “Let Justice rolled down like a mighty stream.” I think of Martin Luther King junior, of Gandhi, Mother Theresa. All were highly esteemed for esteeming those who were not highly esteemed.

Who will be next to pace the way in our community, in our nation, in our world to set things right, to make the unimportant important?

It could be you and me.

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