Equality, Diversity, Disability, Discrimination, U3A
To me, Scripture is very clear that everyone is equal. No-one is perfect and all need to know the grace of God. There are numerous biblical examples of this equality, many of which I have drawn from in previous posts.
People may have worldly status, be wealthy or impoverished, able or disabled. Nationally X, culturally Y. No-one is more or less valuable than anyone else. It matters not whether our differences are hidden; or as visible as our clothing, colour, size or shape.
Jesus is the Shepherd for all, not any pre-defined group.
“I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” (John 10:16)
Try Galatians 3:28-29 for more on equality.
We may rightly help others based on their challenges or disabilities, but many things are hidden. I think we all have “special” needs over time.
Our default mode of operation is to judge others based on what we see from our own narrow perspective, experience and life history, even across generations. Evil can be justified by a selfish approach to difference. “They won’t understand this so we’ll… No one will believe them because… We’re in a position of power so we can…”
It’s painfully beyond the academic when you experience this for yourself. But all people are equal and all lives matter to God.
Time can change our values as we get older. When younger and in good health I thought the University of the Third Age (u3a) was an organisation to make the best of a bad situation -getting old and frail. My head thought I’d get there one day, but a disconnect remained.
“The glory of young men is their strength, And the honour of old men is their gray hair.” (Proverbs 20:29)
In life, Gray (or grey) does not have to mean “old, dreary and overcast” as my word processor dictionary suggests.
My younger less experienced self could easily recognise the value of things older people had achieved when they were younger, but felt their worldly value as they got older and frailer was diminishing.
Post-accident I’ve felt in the twain of the third age myself and with each visit to hospital I seem to receive a new label describing yet another frailty with life changing consequences.
My perspective has changed and in my last post I was critical of young theologians divulging knowledge in a manner I believe to be flawed due to their lack of life experience. I then subconsciously continue to make unnecessary and biased discriminatory judgements, this time in relation to age, from my personal current context. All lives matter to God. Frailty and value are not the same.
Our value does not change with age. For many years I had continued by building on an ongoing career. Now perhaps it’s time to think in terms of new and quite different beginnings positively. “Make the most of life once you’re no longer in full time work by exploring new ideas, skills and interests with your local u3a” https://www.u3a.org.uk/
In the New Testament we find that, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)
“Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, and to the younger men as brothers,” (1Timoth 5:1)
I need to recognise there are ongoing new opportunities, and values that age may enhance rather than diminish.
“Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?” (Job 12:12)
New beginnings and family support as a father, or grandfather, has become even more real, powerful and a part of my thinking.
“Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.” (Proverbs 16:6)
I must not forget that I have been supported amazingly by my family and grown-up children. Ongoing support really does work in both directions.
For me, judgement based solely on age, and other such diversities, should be strongly resisted. I may not live to three score years and ten (70) or even four score years (80) but I should make the most of the blessing of more years despite their difficulties. From everlasting to everlasting. (Psalm 90)
“I thought, ‘Age should speak; advanced years should teach wisdom.’” (Job 32:7)