I work in a Govt medical college. After a few meetings of the Staff Association with the Government there was an increase in our salary and a few allowances added, which was disbursed for a month. Then due to some political reasons, this was discontinued. The staff association considered it a breach of promise and decided to take action. The decision was to continue seeing patients but temporarily stop taking classes for the medical students so as to get the parents involved to pressurise the Government. I am uncomfortable with the decision but with my colleagues and other staff taking this stand, it is very difficult for me to single handedly take a different stand. I wonder whether I am being “over-righteous” and moreover, if the allowances come I will also benefit from it!
How does one decide in such or similar situations where the demand is just and the authorities do not respond to repeated appeals? Is action of this nature justifiable for a Christian?
Truly this is an ethical dilemma! Let me try to respond:
In the first place I would like to say that it was a good decision to continue to see the patients while pressing for a decision by the government. However there is a problem in stopping to take the classes for the students who are innocent in this matter; they are the loosers in the conflict. They are hurt. (It is said that when elephants fight, it is the grass underneath which gets crushed!) Will the classes be given later and students compensated? Is it right to harm the students in the bargain for a better salary for us teachers?
Then, what is the alternative? Negotiations are the best way without hurting the patients or students; however I am conscious of the ineffectiveness of peaceful negotiations in the present political milieu. Often the governments act only when some one is hurt. And it is indeed a sad state of affairs.
However the deeper issue arising out of this dilemma is: what is the Christian response to such matters? Then several other questions come up :
Jesus said "I am in the midst of you as ONE WHO SERVES". Paul describes himself often as "SERVANT (actually the word is SLAVE) OF CHRIST.."So we have to ask ourselves, what is my attitude to salary and other material benefits for my work? When we, doctors, ask for more salaries, with whom are we comparing ourselves and fighting for "justice"-is it with more affluent ones in other professions or with the less advantaged ones in our society? Do we really ask out of need or enhance our comforts?
Don’t we believe in our hearts that we belong to a higher class and we deserve better and better material benefits? (See 1 Corinthians .4:7). “When we fight for our "privileges and rights, are we truly mindful of the poorer sections in our society?”
These questions disturb me though I do not have all the answers.
At least let us ask sincerely and live with these questions seeking more clarity from the Scripture, from the Lord Jesus.