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Sun, Oct 26, 2014 04:31 AM
Issue of October 22, 2014

A hope note
A hope note
Dr. Wayne Willis reflects on life and hope.

Taking stock

July 23, 2014 | 10:37 AM

Sequoyah, the great Cherokee leader, inventor of an alphabet for his people, never became a chief because he was born with a club foot. Only the unblemished, according to Cherokee standards, could ever become a chief. Disqualified from serving his people as their chief, lame Sequoyah became a medicine man, a great role model and a healer for his people.

Nazi Germans believed that blemished individuals like Sequoyah were worthless and a terrible drain on their economy. They thought of the poor, sick, old and disabled as "useless eaters" who needed to be exterminated.

The Dead Sea Scrolls, written by Essenes who had withdrawn from society and lived in the desert to keep themselves pure, were quite clear on who would and who would not be welcome at the impending Great Messianic Banquet: "All the wise men of the congregation, the learned and the intelligent, men whose way is perfect and men of ability, the men of renown" would be invited, but "no man smitten in his flesh, paralyzed in his feet or hands, or lame, or blind, or deaf, or dumb, or with a visible blemish, none of these shall come." Imperfects like Sequoyah, useless eaters and women would have no seat at the table.

How interesting that Jesus, a contemporary of the Essenes, taught his followers the very opposite: "When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind and you will be blessed." (Luke 14).

Emma Lazarus put these words in the mouth of Lady Liberty greeting the newly-arrived to our shores: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free ... Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me."

Gandhi wrote: "The measure of a civilization is how it treats its weakest members."

How is our civilization measuring up?

Dr. Wayne Willis

Debby Broughton
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Corydon Democrat, 301 N. Capitol Ave., Corydon, IN 47112 1-812-738-2211 email