May 2007 - Volume 11, Issue 10

Unclaimed Baggage

By Rev. Ray Petrucci

Photo of a baggage claim sign in an airportWhile waiting patiently and hopefully in the baggage claim area of the airport, I wondered why my luggage becomes so shy on leaving the cargo hold of the airplane. Timidity must be the reason why my bags are always the last to slip down on to that ingenious technological marvel that circulates one's suitcases on a never ending display before all of the newly assembled, anxiously expectant, disembarked passengers. Rejoicing at spotting my own sheep among the flock, I pounced on them and whisked them off of the carousel. Being among the last to leave the area, I happened to notice a few lonely bags yet unclaimed. Surely, their owners must be delayed and will rescue them shortly. At least, I hoped so.

One regrettable characteristic of modern society is the emphasis on the necessity of a relentless and an often dehumanizing pursuit of a vast and varied number of personal and professional goals through which one is assured a satisfactory life is attained. What I am emphasizing here is the point where love, caring, and compassion are eradicated in place of raw ambition. The single-mindedness of the quest for this unholy grail has created a number of people who have become like unclaimed baggage - victims of indifference and abandonment. These are the people who were either born or have become disabled and are incapable of competing in the race. They are ever before one's eyes: the aged, the poor, those who are mentally and physically challenged. An all too individualistic mainstream population wants them off the radar screen. They are a hindrance, a stumbling-block to achieving one's all-consuming desires.

When elections role around, politicians decry the plight of this neglected part of society. Incumbents are criticized from pillar to post for their poor performance in addressing the needs of the downtrodden and defenseless. Those seeking office promise change. But does change really take place? Does it ever? Even Jesus said, "The poor you will always have with you." Indeed, Jesus also calls all to action. At the daybreak of every year, every day, every moment, the struggle to keep the humane and moral issues of mankind at the forefront renews itself. If the problems of the disenfranchised and the disaffected people of the world remain, the efforts of people of good will to shine the spotlight on them must persist also.

The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life – the children; those who are at the twilight of life – the elderly; and those in the shadows of life – the sick, the needy, and the handicapped.

– Hubert Humphrey

God has commanded – not recommended, suggested, or hinted – that all are meant to love God, to love their neighbor, and to love themselves. This Great Commandment is meant to saturate to the core of human understanding and interaction. This divine declaration is a mandate for humanity. The well being of individuals and nations are fittingly served by heeding this command. Each person is obliged to assist others to help themselves and to reach self-sufficiency. In particular, this task falls upon those who have sought and have been granted political power. Those entrusted with power must use that power to aid the powerless. If not, then power becomes an end in itself, an object of worship. The very purpose of power would become distorted and a Satan-spawn. If this evil ripens within the human mind, then the respect for- and the value of human life disappear.

Photo of an orange suitcaseIt would be unjust not to lavish kudos on the many individuals who are members of governmental, church-sponsored, and other agencies who labor tirelessly for the benefit of the underprivileged. In addition, the countless people who have made their personal contribution to help those in need usually are unsung by society but not unnoticed by the One who oversees all. Perhaps, the answer is to be found in individual hearts and souls. If one can conceive of a time when love is to make the world go round, personal acts of love and caring are the very expression of that hope. Whether referring to a piece of luggage lying on a carousel or a member of humanity languishing in poverty, the presence of a helping hand is needed to break the cycle.