"...Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me." (Matt. 25:40 NRSV)
In my most recent Public Theology class, two questions were raised, 1)Who gets to be human? and, 2) Is theological anthropology the most contested theological doctrine in the public square?
To question no. 1, I would respond that those with the might and the money make that decision. As for question no. 2, based on my observations, I would say yes. Ultimately the questions are closely related.
Although not aware that their actions are an indication of their theological anthropology, those who control the lion's share of the world's resources and who sit in the seats of power decide consciously and unconsciously who gets to be human. It is not necessary for them to verbalize their thoughts about the God-human relationship or the human-human relationship. One only needs to observe their behavior in order to make a determination regarding their thoughts.
What the influential and the wealthy believe about others is manifested in too many ways to mention them all. However, consider how those who control resources use or misuse them. In this country alone, financial resources in the millions and perhaps billions of dollars are spent on the construction and maintenance of sports arenas/complexes as well as the upkeep of golf courses and football and baseball fields. Apparently, it is much more desirable to entertain sports fans, than it is to provide food, water, shelter, or medicine to people around the world who are desperately in need. It was Sojourner Truth, who inquired while seeking equal treatment for black women, "Ain't I a woman?" Similarly, those in need can ask, "Ain't we human?"
Another misappropriation of resources takes place everyday in the kitchens of American restaurants. There are still restaurants who choose to discard excess food rather than make it available through some mechanism for the hungry. It appears that they would prefer that someone, who is looking for something to eat, eat the excess food from a dumpster instead of at a shelter, church or soup kitchen table. Doesn't the fact that these people have to eat in order to live say that the are human?
Lastly, medical care is another area in which the lack of regard for some indicates that those in control don't consider them human. The failure of large pharmaceutical companies to provide low or no cost drugs to the people of the world who are victims of HIV/AIDS must be considered a devaluation of their humanity by those companies. What other conclusion can be reached when the drugs are available, but only to those who can afford them? Likewise, what is one to think when these same companies price their drugs so that seniors have to decide whether or not to buy food or medicine?
Again, the examples of how theological anthropology plays out in the world are numerous and they include the previously mentioned areas, as well as, issues of sexism, human sexuality, and so on. And make no mistake, one does not have to be devoutly or overtly religious in order for one's theological anthropology to be revealed. After all, you shall know a tree by its fruit. Or in other words, actions speak louder than words.