The Courage of Nancy Pelosi

Spirited Reasoners know that the person who occupies the position of Speaker of the U. S. House of Representatives is third in line to the Presidency. That fact made Speaker Nancy Pelosi the highest-ranking U. S. official to visit Taiwan in 25 years. See,

Speaker Pelosi also happens to be one of the most vilified members of Congress among those who hail from the political right. Over the years she has developed that nastiest of habits; namely, advocating for those specifically named by Jesus in Matthew 25:35-40:

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”

These words of Jesus can be called the heart of the “social Gospel” championed by political progressives. Yet right-wing Christians routinely make a point of criticizing government programs that help the poor, aid refugees and other immigrants (i. e. “strangers”), provide health insurance for all, or encourage humane treatment of prisoners. They call such programs “socialist” or even “communist,” ignoring the fact that the original ideology for such programs comes straight from the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.

This past week, Speaker Pelosi chose to use her lofty position as House Speaker to reach out in support of Taiwan, arguably a “stranger” or “prisoner” whose inhabitants are forced to live under the threats of the neighborhood bully, mainland China. Merely because of her willingness to visit Taiwan, mainland China’s rulers have gone literally ballistic, launching missiles that have landed in waters surrounding the island. How dare this woman demonstrate personal freedom of travel in the face of the dictates of a powerful authoritarian nation!

To reach Taiwan, she was required to fly close enough to mainland China’s airspace to make herself a target. China chose, for whatever reason, not to shoot down her plane. But the fact remains: despite the volumes of criticism that has been leveled against her, her words and actions confirm she is one of the most courageous leaders of our time.