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Morning Sun
  • OKIE IN EXILE: Taking Care of Your Own

  • A man came to Jesus, a rich young man.  I don’t know enough of history to imagine what he would’ve been like then, but now I can imagine him as being like one of our middle-to-upper class young people.  This is to say, someone who’s been packed in cotton wool all of his life; someone who’s had it his way; someone who has never been uncomfortable.

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  • A man came to Jesus, a rich young man.  I don’t know enough of history to imagine what he would’ve been like then, but now I can imagine him as being like one of our middle-to-upper class young people.  This is to say, someone who’s been packed in cotton wool all of his life; someone who’s had it his way; someone who has never been uncomfortable.
    But within his life of privilege he has been taught right and wrong. He’s been raised religiously and is pious. He has kept the law and desires to please God.  He asks Jesus what he needs to do? Jesus tells him to give it all to the poor and to follow him.
    That is a standard that I was taught growing up. I never actually did it myself, you understand, but I thought rich people should do it. In particular, I saw myself as one of the poor and thought it would be great if I could be a first stop on the rich man’s journey to salvation.
    Hallelujah.
    I’ve been thinking about that, though. While the Gospels are full of the message that we are to help others, the details on how that is to be done are rather scarce.  We are to love our neighbors, and we are given a rather broad definition of neighbor, but the rest is left up to us.
    Some good friends of ours loaned us the DVDs of Downton Abbey. It is one of the Masterpiece Theater things set in the north of England and begins the morning after the Titanic went down.   It is set on the estate of an Earl.  There are lots of intertwined subplots and lots of drama.  This has caused one of my daughters to say, “It’s not a soap opera; it’s history.”
    In any case, there are lots of well-drawn characters. One of these is the Countess Dowager who is played by Maggie Smith, better known to some of us as Professor McGonagall from the Harry Potter movies. As we begin, we want to hate her character. She is very proper and very concerned about appearances.  She’s not very willing to share power. She believes people should know their place.
    That sort of rubs the Okie in me the wrong way. But...
    But as the story progresses and her character is drawn with finer strokes, we discover there is an underlying reason for this that some of us can identify with:  The Countess Dowager takes care of her own.
    “Take care of your own” is not one of the beatitudes.  It’s not one of the Ten Commandments. I would argue though, it is understood by them. When we are taught to “Love your neighbor as yourself,” it is understood that you do love yourself and you love yourself pretty well.
    Page 2 of 2 - If I have a family, and I spend my time on other people while leaving my own family neglected, that simply doesn’t make sense.  That seems more like self-hatred than it seems like love for others. Quite frankly, I am not situated to do as much good for everybody in the world as I am for my own.
    The Countess Dowager exemplifies this as she takes care of her family, the servants at the manor, and those in the community.  She is a woman of the world and knows how the world works and is respected by the servants at the manor for this ability.  At one point, one of the former servants, now a wounded war veteran, needs help and the cook comments, “The Old Lady will take care of it now that she’s got the bit between her teeth.”
    I am open to the idea that Downton Abbey is simply a romantic portrayal of something that never was, however I do believe that it portrays the truth that there are some in positions of privilege who use their abilities to help others. As one of the servants at the manor might say, “I’ve seen it with me own eyes.”
    Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, is Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Mathematics at Pittsburg State University. He blogs at redneckmath.blogspot.com and okieinexile.blogspot.com. You may contact him at okieinexile@gmail.com.
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