To the editor:

Life is made up of choices. Its quality is determined by whether these choices are expressions of principle or merely of expedience. A life or integrity is defined not so much by the act of "drawing a line in the sand" to limit someone else's behavior, but by principles that inspire us to draw the line that we ourselves will not cross.We face these decisions daily. Human suffering and need are always with us. Some see this constancy as an excuse for neglect. Such neglect cheapens us and allows waiting lists to substitute for services, eligibility tests to replace compassion and poverty to be defined as a crime instead of a tragedy.

It results in committees of housed and insured individuals deciding whether the poor and disabled among us will have food, health care, homes and even how far below poverty we will require "the least of these" to struggle for survival.

It permits us to tolerate our people suffering and dying for want of what we could provide. Such a delusion of helplessness weakens our souls as a reprieve from the responsibility to care for each other and uses our resources not to serve but to define and institutionalize our justifications for not serving. In this way we create the cracks through which any among us might fall.

This is the decision of 1991. Our leaders need to know now what kind of community we want. For what do we stand? If not for human life and dignity, what is left to stand for? If people are dispensable, what is not? If principle is just for when we can afford it, how much is our virtue selling for these days? What gain and games can we "divert" our means toward while some among us pay with their health and their lives?

History will ask such brutal questions, and by our fruits it shall know us. It will see what we created for ourselves by the line we drew, not in the sand, but in our hearts. It is the choice of our mortality; for what do we stand?

Ila Marie Goodey

Utah Human Services Coalition