“Hey, compassion man!” a guy called out to me waving a copy of the Murfreesboro Pulse newspaper with a full page photo of me on the cover accompanied by the headline, “Rabbi Rami… man of compassion.”
“You’re compassion man, aren’t you?”
“Yes, Citizen,” I said in a deep comic book hero voice, “I am Compassion Man, friend of all the little furry woodland creatures and…”
“I suppose you’re in favor of President Uganda’s health care plan, aren’t ‘cha? Why the hell should I have to pay for some loafers health care?”
Obviously this fellow didn’t get my joke, so I thought I’d try again.
“Actually I am opposed to any health care for loafers. A good spit shine once a week ought to suffice.” I paused. He paused. Neither one of us heard a laugh track, so he continued on:
“I worked hard all my life to pay for my health care. I went to school and studied hard and didn’t do crack or get some bimbo pregnant, and so I got a good job and full health care benefits…”
“So you don’t actually pay for your health care.”
“…and I don’t want to pay for anyone else’s. People make choices. They take crack instead of cracking the books and so they haven’t got jobs. That isn’t my fault. I’m no evolutionary Darwin atheist but this is survival of the fittest. Who wants near the wells to live and have babies anyway? If they haven’t got health care they will die sooner and in the long run that is what God wants.”
“So you are in favor of abortion funding for ne’re-do-wells? That way they won’t raise more ne’re-do-wells.” I was hoping by repeating the term ne’re-do-well and pronouncing it properly I could at least improve this fellow’s vocabulary.
“You know for a so-called man of God you really don’t know much. That’s ‘cause you’re a Jew and killed Christ and all, but God would forgive you if you come to Christ and do what’s right on health care.”
“But didn’t Jesus plead for the ‘least of these?’”
“I’m the least of these! I’m the one who put off having fun as a kid and stayed in school and got a job and raised a family while these others just drank booze and smoked crack and made babies and cashed their welfare checks. I suffered while these loafers loafed! But that is what God wants and that’ll get me into heaven while these crack smokers will be smoking in Hell.”
“Along with the Jews.”
“Good luck with that… [We interrupt this factual account to bring you this fantasy ending:] I wish you well, brother. And I will pray for you, for I am Compassion Man. But now I must be off for there are others for whom my heart must bleed. Take care, Citizen. Compassion Man awayyyyyyyyy!” [We now return you to our factual account:]
I turned and walked away, but like Lot’s wife I had to glance back and saw the man toss my photo in the trash. And while I wasn’t turned into a pillar of salt, I have to admit it hurt.