The partial government shutdown has now entered its third week, and the NBC News website has a “Shutdown Latest” tab available at the top of its homepage to track all of the stories related to this travesty. Talking heads from each party appeared on the talk shows and across cable news channels this weekend, a meeting on Saturday produced nothing concrete, and Trump is talking about declaring a national emergency to bypass Congress to “protect our borders.”
However, this is not only a political and legal endeavor, impacting elected officials and staffers on Capitol Hill; it is also directly affecting the estimated 800,000 federal workers who don’t know when (and/or if) their next paycheck will come, despite the fact that about 420,000 of them are considered “essential” and are still working.
Matthew Craviotto is one such example. He’s an air traffic control specialist at Wilmington International Airport in North Carolina whose home received about $70k of damage in Hurricane Florence in September, leaving him relying on friends for shelter and draining his savings. "That was my rainy day fund and it rained," he said.
I’ll admit: this human-interest story is of special interest to me because my parents live near Wilmington, NC. When we fly from Chicago to visit them, we fly into this airport, and we’ve been able to witness the region’s recovery post-hurricane firsthand.
There are plenty of stories like this, both in this article and in others that are easy to find (like here or here). Though Craviotto and his coworker at the airport don’t state their political affiliation, a Coast Guard couple profiled later share that they voted for Trump and continue to support him, although they, too, begrudgingly call for an end to the shutdown.
Whether we oppose Trump or support him, and whether we are federal workers or in the private sector, we surely know someone affected by this government shutdown, because we are all affected by it. Most national parks are closed and are facing damage. TSA screeners are unpaid and have been calling out sick in increased numbers. The IRS is functioning with 12% of its workers (which may snarl the tax filing process). The Department of Housing and Urban Development has been hamstrung, immediately affecting its routine enforcement work and possibly its rental assistance payments and grants. Emergency and contingency funds are running out.
When our government doesn’t step up to care for our brothers and sisters and siblings in God’s family, especially those most in need, we must step up to care for one another. Paul’s letter to the Philippians reminds us: we are called to look to the interests of each other, not only ourselves. To care for one another is to care for God in Christ!