August 19, 2012
My favorite article today was written by Tom Morello for Rolling Stone Magazine. He made an excellent observation:
“You see, the super rich must rationalize having more than they could ever spend while millions of children in the U.S. go to bed hungry every night. So, when they look themselves in the mirror, they convince themselves that ‘Those people are undeserving. They’re . . . lesser.’”
What a great statement! Unfortunately, the super rich are not the only Americans using that rationalization. I know many good, honest “middle-class” people who say that those who are taking free meals, food stamps, health care, etc., are lazy bums, and they do not want their taxes used to support them. Acknowledgements that there are sick, disabled, unemployed, and working poor human beings who need help are sadly lacking.
One of the popular jokes floating around the Internet is: “The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is proud to be distributing the greatest amount of free meals and food stamps ever. Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us to ‘Please Do Not Feed the Animals.’ Their stated reason for the policy is because the animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves. This ends today’s lesson.”
Did I completely misunderstand the story about Jesus taking a few loaves and a few fish, and there being enough for thousands of people to eat. What was that all about?
Are people who think the Food Stamp story is funny really just fearful that their status as middle-class citizens is being threatened? Yes, it is being threatened, but it is not the poor, the sick, and the imprisoned who are stealing from them. The people who are making $35,000 per hour are knocking us all out of your seats. According to the Forbes top 25 highly paid CEO list, the top CEO had an annual compensation of $131.2 million. Unless my math is wrong, if he worked 365 days per year, ten hours per day, he would make more than $35,000 per hour. Why not direct the anger at him? Do they think that if they side with the rich, the rich will protect their status, maybe even throw them a few crumbs? How sad.
The following paragraph quotes Luke 6:27-36, but I have not been able to find its author. I have it taped to my desk:
“Jesus calls us to love our enemies and do good to them, to lend without expecting repayment, to turn the other cheek, to give to everyone who asks of us. These moral principles are not just suggestions, but commands, by which we will be judged. How easy it is to love the lovable, to give to the deserving, to be kind to good people. But Christ calls us to go beyond that, to possess the kind of love that empowers us to love the unlovable, to give to the undeserving, and to forgive even the unforgivable. To do this, we need the grace of Christ; we need the Holy Spirit. Let us beg for that grace, let us welcome the Holy Spirit more into our hearts so that we can fulfill this ‘Golden Rule’.”
I do not claim to be more moral than anyone else. I am a sinner. I like cheap wine, lobster, video poker, and new shoes. I have been chewing nicotine gum for twelve years. God knows I am not as generous, thankful, faithful or cheerful as I should be. But I really resent the attitude that seems to be dragging down the spirits of so many good people. Where is this coming from?
“For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. Not that others should have relief while you are burdened, but that as a matter of equality your abundance at the present time should supply their needs, so that their abundance may also supply your needs, that there may be equality. As it is written: Whoever had much did not have more, and whoever had little did not have less.” 2 Cor 8:1-9