08 Mar JOHN KASICH, CHRISTIANITY AND THE SANDWICH STORY
Ohio Governor and GOP presidential candidate John Kasich has been making news with his interpretation of Christianity and how it supports his decision to embrace the expansion of Medicaid in Ohio. He offered to buy Bibles for those who criticize his decision, and to justify his decision, he often rolls out a story of speaking with an Ohio legislator about someday answering to St. Peter at the Pearly Gates on the question of: what did you do to help the poor?
Governor Kasich is of course an American citizen entitled to interpret the Bible in his own way; and we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt as to the proverbial ‘good intentions’. But we think Governor Kasich needs to be reminded of the popular ‘sandwich story’, which goes something like this:
In the first version, two people are walking along the street around noon. One has his bag lunch, with a homemade sandwich inside. The other has nothing, and is very hungry. The one with the sandwich notices his companion doesn’t have anything to eat, and offers him half of his sandwich. This unselfish gesture provides an inspirational uplift to the giver; and the companion is deeply appreciative and no longer hungry—and just might be inclined in the future to share half of his sandwich with a hungry companion he encounters.
In the second version, two people are walking along the street around noon. One has his bag lunch, with a homemade sandwich inside. The other has nothing, and is very hungry. A police officer sees them, walks over and pulls his gun, points it at the one with the bag lunch and orders him to give half the sandwich to the hungry one, ‘or else’. Feeling fear and resentment, the one with the sandwich begrudgingly hands over half the sandwich; the other takes it and eats it. They then go their separate ways.
With due respect, Governor Kasich, the first version is the illustration of Christian teaching. It represents the individual Christian decision to voluntarily give to the needy from an honest and sincere heart that exemplifies true Christian charity ; it is the sincere gratitude for receiving such honest giving that gives genuine hope and faith to the hungry.
Introduce the gun (a/k/a the power of government) into the second version, and the hungry one still gets half the sandwich. But everything else that transforms and uplifts both the giver and the receiver with the Christly example is lost.
The giver did not ‘give’ at all; he had a gun pointed at him and surrendered. He doesn’t have the satisfaction of helping someone; he’s resentful that he had no choice but to hand over half of what he had.
The receiver did not experience love and witness generosity; he just took what the police officer forced out of somebody he won’t ever know. Plus, from this point forward, he’ll look to the police to pull a gun on somebody else for the next sandwich and everything else he needs. He also won’t think of someday sharing his own sandwich; he’ll tell hungry people to go the police.
Even the police officer is dispirited; he has a dim view of both people; he may see them as not much better than animals that ‘do the right thing’ only under threat of force or punishment.
Version one produces a healthy and vibrant society safeguarded by the Golden Rule—to a large extent, version one is the America of the founding. Version two produces a cold, dark, uncaring society where everyone is incentivized to hide their sandwiches and hide from the police.
So…back to Governor Kasich. With due respect, sir, the question of ‘what did you do to help the poor?” is not answered by showing how you used guns—the power of government—to take from some and give to others. It’s answered by what youdid, as an individual; the example you set with your own life and your own money (or sandwich).
Governor Kasich’s self-righteous hectoring of Americans of faith with a wave of the Bible is off-putting and tiresome.