The Least, First

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Political reform and spiritual transformation

with 2 comments

This map, posted at My Clipmarks aroused considerable conversation, eventually taking a direction I hadn’t considered. Deep in the discussion, an excellent clipper named Righthand posted this comment:

There is also the personal level. You need to be a real generous Christian to want your fellow man to be your equal.*

Ding-ding! Thoughtful comment alert! Here’s the clip:

clipped from www.censusscope.org

 

Nationally, 12.4 percent of residents are considered to be in poverty. “In Poverty” means that a given person falls below the poverty threshold assigned by the U.S. Census Bureau. Please see our chart topic on Poverty for a discussion of poverty thresholds.

Examination of the map shows, however, that this 12.4 percent is a misleading representation of poverty status across the United States. Poverty is considerably more prevalent in the southern states. In a clear majority of counties in the South, the proportion of persons in poverty is higher than the national rate.

  blog it

And a response to the comment?

Alarmingly true. And the point of our faith would be “to love the Lord God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves.” In response to a weasel’s question: “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus tells the Good Samaritan story – in which the only good guy is a despised, supposedly heretical foreigner who takes care of someone who’s a foreigner to him, asking nothing in return.

And is this not the real issue behind the endless debates on poverty, healthcare, immigration, and war? We don’t want to lose our stuff. We’re more concerned that the poor live like us than we are that they eat. We’re more concerned that the “right” people take care of the sick than we are that the sick are cared for. We want what our international neighbors have. We don’t want them to have what we have.

We don’t love them as we love ourselves. I wonder if that’s why ongoing spiritual transformation is so important—without love, political reform (of the left or the right) becomes merely self-serving. When our hearts are broken—for Darfur, for south L.A., for Mexicans in poverty—the endless philosophical evasions (And who is my neighbor? or, Shouldn’t private enterprise be the one who … ?) might be swept away by a torrent of more genuine passion for people.

Break my heart, O God.

Think so?

*His comment’s not intended to mean only Christians would want equality; he’s making the case that the run -of – the- mill Christian heart may not be big enough to do so.


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Written by Monte

February 7, 2008 at 3:53 pm

US Catholic bishops recognize complexity of political choices

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Interesting statement from the US Catholic bishops, as cited by Joan Chittister:

US Catholic bishopsThe truth is that the bishops in their latest document, “Faithful Citizenship” — the church’s attempt to teach the importance of civic participation in the political process — eschewed single issue politics entirely. “As Catholics we are not single-issue voters. A candidate’s position on a single issue is not sufficient to guarantee a voter’s support,” the document says quite directly. …

Instead, the document sets out to remind people that voting is, indeed, a moral act but that political morality — social morality — is made up of more things than sexual issues, all of them morally important, all of them to be seen as the voter’s moral obligation to weigh issues and their effects on society at large. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

November 21, 2007 at 12:04 pm

Media: GOP ‘death panel’ claims like insisting ‘the earth is flat’

with 12 comments

Outstanding video:  News media anchors express astonishment that GOP leaders (Iowa’s own Chuck Grassley being today’s lead) would be so brazen as to fabricate the “death panel” scare.  It’s like insisting “that the earth is flat.”

The truth? A Republican Congressman wrote a provision into one of the House bills calling for insurance payment to be available to people who want to consult their physician about making a living will.

That’s it.   The rest is simply made up.  There is no government involvement at all.

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Creating more insurgents than we kill

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NORTH WAZIRISTAN, PAKISTAN - FEBRUARY 17:  A P...
Image by Getty Images
via Daylife

Quick: explain the US/NATO mission in Afghanistan.

“Well, um … to get Osama—9/11, you know.”

But Osama’s not there.

“Yes, well … there’s the Taliban—flogging women.”

But Taliban forces melt away into Pakistan during a US offensive, then return when our forces leave.

“But we send those missiles into Pakistan to get them.”

Exactly.

Those missiles do exactly what Al Qaeda needs done: they arouse anti-American hatred. They create a sense of helplessness. They make terrorism seem rational—even necessary—to a people whose families suffer sudden devastation from an untouchable, invisible foe.

Here’s how Chris Hedges writes it, in a post called War Without Purpose:

clipped from www.truthdig.com
Al-Qaida could not care less what we do in Afghanistan. We can bomb Afghan villages, hunt the Taliban in Helmand province, build a 100,000-strong client Afghan army, stand by passively as Afghan warlords execute hundreds, maybe thousands, of Taliban prisoners, build huge, elaborate military bases and send drones to drop bombs on Pakistan. It will make no difference
We are fighting with the wrong tools. We are fighting the wrong people. We are on the wrong side of history. And we will be defeated in Afghanistan
clipped from www.truthdig.com
The offensive by NATO forces in Helmand province will follow the usual scenario [...]
The Taliban will withdraw … And [then] the Taliban will creep back [...]
The only way to defeat terrorist groups is to isolate them within their own societies. This requires wooing the population away from radicals. It is a political, economic and cultural war. The terrible algebra of military occupation and violence is always counterproductive to this kind of battle
It always creates more insurgents than it kills
blog it

None of us can identify a winning strategy currently at work in Afghanistan. Killing doesn’t win hearts. Once again, we trust force to accomplish something force has never done.  How long, this time?

Let’s stop it. And start over. With a strategy designed first to ruin Al Qaeda’s pitch, rather than provide its background music.

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Written by Monte

July 21, 2009 at 3:13 pm

18,000 dead: The moral issues of health care

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It’s not just politics.

Jim Wallis at Sojourners describes three moral issues that live at the center of the health care debate.  Here’s an excerpt.  Read the entire article by clicking here:

The Truth

For decades now, the physical health and well-being of our country has been a proxy battle for partisan politics.

President Truman with

When Truman tried to pass a national health insurance plan, the American Medical Association spent $200 million (in today’s dollars) and was accused of violating ethics rules by having doctors lobby their patients to oppose the legislation. In the 1970′s when Nixon tried to pass a national health insurance plan, strikingly similar to what many democrats are proposing today, the plan was defeated by liberal democrats and unions who thought that they would be able to pass something themselves after the mid-term elections and claim political credit for the plan. In the 1990′s the “Harry and Louise” ads misrepresented the Clinton health care plan but was successful enough PR to shut down that movement for reform. [...]

What we need is an honest and fair debate with good information, not sabotage of reform with half-truths and misinformation.* [...]

Full Access

About 46 million people in our country today are uninsured and many more find themselves without adequate coverage …  Many of them are working families who live in fear of getting sick or injured. …  An estimated 18,000 people a year die unnecessarily, many from low-income families, because they lack basic health insurance. … Seeing your child sick is a horrible feeling; seeing your child sick and not having the resources to do something about it is a societal sin.

Cost

… An estimated 60 percent of bankruptcies this year will be due to medical bills. Seventy-five percent of those declaring bankruptcy as a result of medical bills have health insurance. … In the end, some are paying too much for care and others are making too much from these present arrangements. [...]

… special interests groups … will be promoting their own self-interests during this process. The faith community has the opportunity to step in and speak for the interests of the common good and those who would not otherwise have a voice. I am sure that every one of the 18,000 preventable deaths that will happen this year from a lack of basic health insurance breaks the heart of God. And, it should break ours too [...]

Amen to that.  People in this country are dying on our watch.   The life preservers have been kept under lock and key by special interests for a hundred years.  Profits are saved; human beings are sacrificed.

That’s a moral issue.


*As a resource for congregations, small groups, and individuals, Sojourners has worked with its partners to publish a health care tool kit [click here to download] to help frame and guide this necessary debate. This guide gives an overview of the biblical foundations of this issue and frequently asked questions about it.

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