Friday, April 22, 2011

washing feet

I spent a good part of my afternoon yesterday in a meeting listening to higher-up administrators of some of the city's social services agencies give glowing accounts (accompanied by colorful charts and optimistic statistics) of the programs they operate for the city's poor. It was hard to believe these efficient, responsive, generous programs are the same ones my clients tell me about.

Yesterday was also Maundy Thursday, and I read these words from Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams on the blog for the NPR radio show On Being. He was speaking in reference to a medieval tradition in which monarchs washed the feet of the poor in commemoration of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples at the Last Supper:
What about having a new law that made all Cabinet members and leaders of political parties, editors of national papers and the hundred most successful financiers in the UK spent a couple hours every year serving dinners in a primary school on a council estate, or cleaning bathrooms in a residential home?
What if those administrators, the mayor, and the Wall Street bankers spent a few hours doing some of the assignments in the Work Experience Program, like picking up trash on the sidewalks and cleaning public restrooms without pay?

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