Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Spiritual Crisis

My good friend Mary Wade, an urban peacemaker, formerly working at the U.N. offers this response to my last posting "Disgusted." She is far more eloquent than I and gets to the heart of the issue: a spiritual crisis. Here is Mary's response.

More and more in my speaking I hear myself saying,this crisis is spiritual.  It
involves matters of morality, ethics, humanity, respect for the human race and
creator of all.

The mode of operation involves pitting the poor, uninformed, and those striving
to achieve the rich, super-rich at the expense of every one else.  Through every
form of media it is poured into our consciousness.
Two aspects of the conditioning to accept this abuse against the American people
and the world is what Dr. Howard Thurman identifies as fear, hatred, and
deception.  Too many fear the power of the super-rich.  They fear the
apparatuses they possess in control of military, powerful allies in the
government, and the ability to weaken our meager economic survival. Then there
is their ability to stir up hate for each other and anyone who speaks out in
support the poor. This is evident in the ability to convince people who need
health care,medicare, medicaid, food stamps, inexpensive housing to act and vote
against their own best interest.

Religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, all vehicles by which to create
division.  Hate and guilt over their condition; hate and fear of each other.
Much is the crippling guilt is against the self for being in the perdicament.
Then there is the deception.  Deception by the rich who again use  trickery to
deceive us into thinking they are doing what is good for America. Too often we
deceive ourselves in believing we oppose their greed while storing up a lust for
greed in our own hearts.  Too many of us want to be like them.

Yes Drick, I too am fed up too.  The Power Movement, National Action Network,
and other movements so essential to redressing the evil and impact of the
assault on the poor and defenseless are doing their part.
The issue we must address is the spiritual state of the nation and individuals.
We are in a spiritual warfare; a battle between the two kingdoms.  The kingdom
of ungodliness, darkness, hatred, fear, deception, greed, and the kingdom of
God, the light, hope, openness, courage, and compassion.  I believe we must
support the organizations, do our part indivdiually to help people and make a
difference.  But we also need a real spiritual movement in this nation.  One
more powerful than the so called moral majority. And we cannot achieve this as
individuals, we must unite around a purely spiritual movement to "reclaim the
soul of America".

Also fed up and thanking you for helping me articulate a deep area of concern in
my heart and soul.

Mary Wade, Elevate our Nation, Building Respect in Community (BRIC)


I’m disgusted.

After several weeks of stymieing the government’s ability to operate by causing a shutdown and complaining about the expense of the Affordable Health Care Act (which unfortunately has not been launched all that effectively), House Republicans have now found some energy to start working again on a bill to weaken financial regulations placed on banks and investment brokers that were put in place following the 2008 financial crisis. In fact Citigroup lobbyists helped write one of the proposed bills.

Meanwhile the gap between the super rich and everyone else continues to widen. A recent New York Times article reported that in Forbes added 200 more names to its billionaires list . Banks are doing well. Luxury goods are flying off the shelves. Sales of million dollar homes jumped 37% just in the first half of this year. Charles Blow of the NY Times states: “it’s a great time to be a rich person in America. The rich are raking it in during this recovery.”

Meanwhile labor force participation fell to its lowest rate in 35 years. Unemployment is down because so many people have just given up looking for work and so no longer show up in the statistics. Child poverty has grown and homelessness is still high and these same representatives that want to help their Wall Street buddies also are working overtime to cut aid to low income families, education funds and of course health care.

These Republicans would say they are just being “business-friendly” but even that is not entirely true because while the Citigroups, Duponts and Comcasts of the world get huge tax breaks, the rest of the tax burden is picked up by small businesses and individuals. These mega companies hide their money in offshore accounts and thereby greatly reduce or altogether avoid paying taxes.

What I am saying is not news to anyone who has been paying attention. The Occupy Wall Street movement helped frame the issue as the 1% and the 99% but lacked the organizational strength to sustain a movement that needs to arise in this country in outrage at this disparity. I do my part in terms of responsible investing and investing my time in seeking to address these disparities both through
my teaching and my work beyond the classroom. For me the area of focus has primarily been in the area of education, but then more generally in trying to raise awareness and assisting those folks seeking to make a difference in their communities. Just last night I spent time with a couple developing their plan to help kids in their community  resist falling into the cycle of violence. It was a great conversation but seems like such an insignificant effort.

I regularly get calls from the Democratic Party asking me to donate so that we can vote out those nasty Republicans  in the House. My response is when the Democrats running a viable candidate in my district (which has one of those conservative, “business-friendly” Republicans), then I will donate. Three weeks later I get the same call and we have the same conversation. The Democrats have better rhetoric, but have not shown much stomach for really revamping the priorities either. And obviously they aren't listening to my concerns.

It's not like no one is trying. Locally POWER is taking on disparities in wages and calling for a fair funding formula for public education funding at the state level. Tavis Smiley and Cornel West did their Poverty Tour a year ago. I have heard Al Sharpton makes some strong statements and his National Action Network is trying to rally energy around the issues. Yet it all seems so weak by comparison. I am eager to sign up, but where?

For now I am just disgusted.