These least of my brethren*

Heart-wrenching story this morning from the New York Times on the number of deaths among people with disabilities in state care. It seems that some fault resides with a lack of basic knowledge about what constitutes good care, particularly around those who have problems with eating, and the rest of the fault is simple neglect. It would be interesting to know if the death rate is different between institutions versus at-home care, though you would expect symptom severity to be systematically worse with those given over to state care.

From one of the mothers:

“I believe that God put these people here for a purpose, because if we didn’t have them to look after, we would lose our humanity,” she said. “How would we know compassion? It says in the Bible, do ye so unto the least of my brothers. I think that’s what it’s all about.”

From the Douay-Rheims translation: And the king answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.

That’s a pretty complicated sentence. I think Jesus probably meant to say “Everybody should be out for themselves all the time, if there is a choice between a $2 million wedding ring for a 72-day marriage and giving $2 million to those in need, you know what the right answer is, people who have less power than you can be readily stepped on, and screw social welfare if you, yourself, are not in need.” I’m glad I live in a Christian country so that all this would exemplified for me.