Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Do you remember that one specific time when someone said something that made life much more complicated? In my youth, I had always heard that homeless people were lazy, because in America, we have lots of choices that we can make in order for us to buy homes, have traditional families, always have a job ... the big bootstrap was wrapped tightly around my brain. College history taught this to me as well. How many times did I hear about the achievers like Ben Franklin, Wilma Rudolph, Lewis & Clark, the Rockefellers, the Presidents, the Inventors, the Poets, the Astronauts? If these people made a mark then so can'st you, was preached cheerfully to me. As an idealist by nature, I loved it. And, for the most part, it's a good, inspirational message to the youth. However, now I realize that it promotes a certain disdain for those on the underbelly of society who have not risen, but sunk. (Btw, there's a book by Theodore Dalrymple which I want to read on this topic called "Life At the Bottom." Anyone recommend it?) So, my moment of complexity arrived when a college friend and I saw a begging man. It was a first for me, and I automatically muttered something about him needing to just get a job. The typical non-compassionate response. My wealthy 71 year old uncle still retorts with this. Fortunately, my friend couldn't let that pass and gave me a compassionate perspective; he listed all of the possibilities that might be preventing this man from being like me or other successful others; he listed all the reasons why Christ would not reject him for being on the bottom of the social rung. Basically, I was stopped and stunned by my ignorance on the matter. In the same way, I am reading mind-opening material in Jim Wallis' book in which he espouses a political stance which incorporates an "integral link between personal ethics and social justice." This means to me that a person should be able to be conservative on issues like marriage, child rearing, entertainment values, pro-life, etc, but still have a viable political option which takes care of the other things that we're given stewardship for as Christians: poverty issues, environmental, peacemaking, race equality, a non-special interest group (or corporate) agenda, fair and quality education. The latter issues in particular are why I couldn't vote for Bush. He didn't convince me that he would take care of these, and with tax cuts for the wealthy, and with war without UN approval, and the disapproval of multiple national church leaders .... Yet, the Democrates "had nothing to offer the American people as an alternative..." says Wallis. This is why I couldn't vote for Kerry. Wallis talks about an option which allows the full Christian agenda to be addressed, not just particle pieces. It's a blended agenda which comes from people with "strong moral conviction and [longings] for a political commitment that reflects them." Well, well, I agree, but the road is still muddy right now. Life becomes more complex, and, daresay, more full of compassionate implications and responsibilities. Hmmmm... I'm reading on with open, yet critical mind...... We'll see.
Posted by Fieldfleur at 8:29 PM