There once was a plague which struck at the population of a great empire. After thirty five years had gone by there were no dramatic cures or even practical steps toward recovery. Those who were afflicted started to manifest an odd growth on their right ears. It was an odd deformity and one that drew attention to the plight of the sufferer. Others would quickly walk by avoiding social contact and averting any opportunity to communicate. Eyes down, those who were untouched by this plague began to form certain beliefs about those who were touched by this illness. One of the most dominate themes to emerge, was the belief in their own righteousness as their primary defense mechanism. Various schools of thought started to emerge positing a host of proposed explanations about the nature of this plague and those it afflicted. One clear understanding became apparent as those spared from this drastic plight of deformity were certain that they were not like those who suffered from this strange distortion.
Non-sufferers started to coalesce into various groups which eventually sought the protection of the government. In a flurry of responses laws were passed, policies appeared and enforcement measures sprang up across the land. What was a mighty empire started to tremble from within as waves of fear and concern swept over the population. With no official support or response to their needs, sufferers began adapting fashion trends and hair styles to mask their unattractive scars. As the evidence of this disorder became masked from view within the larger society, some started to breathe easy, expressing a great sigh of relief. Others developed deep suspicions about those whose right ears was not clearly visible. Fear was rampant in the communities of the empire, but people talked little about their true concerns outside of family interactions. Occasionally someone would be observed with a deformed right ear, but by and large the number of reported sighting started to diminish.
Given the distrust and suspicion which had arisen, it was not surprising when a few adventurous entrepreneurs started to publish a watch list with the names, photos and addresses of those known to be afflicted. In the courts these entrepreneurs made a claim that they were exercising their free speech rights and even assumed the role of public watchdogs in the name of protecting the public. Since no public accounting has ever been provided by “businessmen” who masquerade as concerned citizens while profiting off of the fears of others, it is impossible to estimate the extent of damage inflicted upon the feared and the fearful. One thing is certain, there clearly are wolves wrapped in sheep’s clothing living amongst us. In bleating out the phrase public service they mask their predatory actions in the cloak of righteous indignation and moral justification.
As a result those with the strange right ear malady seem to claw into the ground and seek refuge amid the debris of life. Largely unwilling to call attention to themselves or their kin they settle for an existence in which they are largely socially invisible. Though they make no actual or suggested demands upon the community, they exist as a viable and palpable constituent element. But they exist in silence with the understanding that no one will ask to see their right ear, if they just stay quiet and out of the way. It seems to be a legacy of silence which is passed on to those who endure the social indifference and irrational fear of others.
In the context of the historical empire, one of the major antecedents which shaped current thinking was a history of slavery for over one hundred years. In that time frame the good citizens of the empire learned to live out parallel lives in which some others had little to no value, while the lives of others were expressively valued based upon variables which were deemed to be economically, politically or socially desirable. That ability to conceptualize or approximate the value of human life is now being played out on the battlefield of servitude which impacts up to one third of the empires citizens. By embracing the social realities of SEVERCIDE, again some lives are valued higher than the lives of others. This results in an agenda of exclusionary practices which limited or blocks an individual’s access to the empires resources. The net effect is to create a group of citizens who exist in a state of suspended social, political and economic animation. They become invisible and are tolerated as long as they do not reveal their deformed right ears.
Others know that they exist in large numbers, but feel no personal threat from those who keep their right ears masked or disguised. That kind of thinking is posited to enhance respect for law and social order. All the time the tenuous fabric of society is enduring an undetected rip which undermines the very foundation of unity and social harmony. Those with deformed right ears are mandated to honor the obligations incurred by all citizens, but are effectively denied the most basic privileges upon which union and community life is established. Just keep that right ear hidden and everything will be alright. Unfortunately it does not work that way.
After experiencing these encounters, it is clear that public discussions about those who suffer from right ear deformity must await the tragedy which is inherent in the delayed or denied response to disasters in the making. Societal indifference has always played a role in the heartbreak of pending catastrophes. Unfortunately the human condition seems to preclude having the ability to profit from past failures. If God has provided us with the gifts of Mercy, Grace and Forgiveness to administer and manage our lives, what awaits those who have neglected their use among those we deem unworthy? His mercy, grace and forgiveness is the wellspring which feeds my faith and hope. If we as God’s people fail to use His gifts to heal others then we have chosen the practice of spiritual indifference.
Like some others, I have deformed right ear disorder, but I refuse to hide its mark of shame and the exclusion it invites. Instead it has become a badge of honor and a mandate to reach out to everyone else who suffers from its social stigma. I could do no less for the One who gave everything for me and those I love. Remember that deformed right ear disorder can be anything that blocks your willingness to reach out to others in shame and pain.