A better rite would be help those who need it

Holy Week is past, so perhaps one can get away with a few comments on the recent washing of feet -a rite engaged in (sort of) by the new pope.

Foot-washing may be only a symbol, or rite, as some claim and I’m not about to try to diminish the importance of ritual. Rather, rituals are so very necessary to the indoctrination of children. When a ritual is repeated in adulthood, the original feelings of safety, protection, comfort, “truth,” and membership in a larger group one experienced as a child-returns. Over and over.

But today we are not an ancient desert people subject to the dust and filth of the highways and byways and without indoor plumbing. Neither is baring the soles of the feet or the tossing of a shoe a major insult in our culture. Therefore, what would be a modern equivalent, or what association can be found between washing another’s feet – and humility? Obedience? My feet are clean; it’s my floors that may be grimy.

It’s a leap, but I suggest a better “footwashing.” It is the conviction (and taking action) that a governmental/taxpayer “safety net” is needed because children, the poor, elderly poor, sick, or unemployed of today may no longer be able to lift themselves up by their own bootstraps – if indeed, they ever could.

Elaine Thompson