rock group U2 said in his recent Rolling Stone interview: "I don't fear politicians or presidents. They should be afraid. They'll be accountable for what happened on their watch." The answer to the problem of power is to build political movements that deny the legitimacy of the powerful and seek to pry control from their hands. That does not mean we should seek anarchy, but look at closely the issue of the legitimacy of power.
I have worked with many faith and community organizations and it seems to me that many of the problems they seek to address have one root cause: poverty. I plan to take the problems of global poverty much more serious during the next phase of my life, and you may notice a rise in awareness of poverty in both urban and rural America in my writings.
It is the best American tradition of helping others help themselves, now is an opportune time for compassion and justice to help the poorest people of our nation and the world. I see a passion for compassion diminishing in America. Government simply cannot meet the needs of all citizens. Faith and community organizations need help. They need your time and efforts. They need your money and support. We should embrace government partnership with faith-based organizations and other non-profit organizations to do the work of fighting poverty and other issues.
President Bush recognized the poverty problem when he said: "The growing divide between wealth and poverty, between opportunity and misery, is both a challenge to our compassion and a source of instability. We must confront it." "We cannot," said the president, "leave behind half of humanity as we seek a better future for ourselves. We cannot accept permanent poverty in a world of progress. There are no second-class citizens in the human race."
Bono added, "It's an amazing thing to think that ours is the first generation in history that really can end extreme poverty, the kind that means a child dies for lack of food in its belly. This should be seen as the most incredible, historic opportunity but instead it's become a millstone around our necks. We let our own pathetic excuses about how it's 'difficult' justify our own inaction. Be honest. We have the science, the technology, and the wealth. What we don't have is the will, and that's not a reason that history will accept."
Poor and starving people are not particularly appealing news stories, but fighting poverty is and should be a moral imperative for citizens in our cities, state and nation. Theological apathy is not an acceptable excuse. Yes, "the poor will always be with us." However, Jesus, in his first sermon said, "The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor."
As we sit in our comfortable pews on Sunday morning singing about what it is like up there, we should remember that the poverty of spirit as equally lamentable to poverty of physical wealth. This Thanksgiving we should be thankful for both the small and large blessing in our lives. If you are a parent and your child is about to enter the world, it would be a great comfort to know that your country will use all of it's resources to meet the most basic needs of all citizens, so they can land safely.
If you want to touch the face of God or His heart, it is not necessary to escape the surly bonds of Earth, take an interest in the things that interest God. Do not be so eager to grow old or push those baby eagles from the nest. Eliminate some of those nonessential things that clutter our lives. Recognize what is really essential: faith, family and friends. Embrace others. Treat everybody with dignity and respect. Lose control, let God love through you. Don't fear the politicians. Hold them accountable. God will hold us all accountable. I am sure I don't want to explain my previous 41 years to God. Maybe I won't have to explain the remaining time.
Think of those less fortunate this year before your Thanksgiving prayers, those in poverty whose plates are often empty. We are incapable of breaking the cycle of poverty without all of us working together. Bread for the World Institute reports that the number of hungry people in the world reached 852 million in 2005, a harsh reminder that the world has yet to get serious about the challenge of ending hunger. We can make a difference, can't we?
--J. C. Bowman is a public policy analyst who resides in Tallahassee, Florida.
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