"The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

On Not Listening

The moment comes, the moment always comes, when what we have become strikes with the force of symbol. Katrina has shown what decades of me-firstism, of paper stock booms, of let-the-market-sort-it-out ultimately leads to. Jesus taught us that he who would be first must become the servant of all, but Jesus is not the beacon of this society, particularly not the part that wears glittering crosses. We can hear our own hollowness rattle around as we listen to the pleas that should have been heard years ago, but were ignored because their source was not the one which shone with power, from people who weren’t funny or clever or entertaining. Alexander Cockburn put it succinctly, “So collective effort goes out the window, and soon the society forgets how collective effort works. Tens of thousands of poor people standing on roofs in the Delta and they haven't the slightest idea how to get them off. The ones they have brought to dry land they dump on the highway, where they stand as the Army trucks roll by.” Cockburn, Alexander, “From Mitch to Katrina: Nature is Politics”, CounterPunch, Sept. 3/4. (http://www.counterpunch.org/cockburn09032005.html). If nobody’s profiting, then everything grinds to a halt.

To be a Christian means to accept an inescapable responsibility to the poor. The scenes along the Gulf Coast are the result of the systematic abandonment of this responsibility. The people in charge of this government don’t believe in government and so it is logical that they can’t carry out effective government policies. For them, dependence on government assistance is the result of personal moral evil and must be expunged, or else the weak themselves must be expunged.

Let us pray that God will hear the voice of the poor.

1 comment:

Darrell Grizzle said...

Your analysis of our government's attitude toward the poor ("the result of personal moral evil and must be expunged, or else the weak themselves must be expunged") is right on target. This attitude is exemplified by the callous remarks we hear about the hurricane victims from Rush Limbaugh, Barbara Bush, and others on the right.

May God give us the courage and the grace to stand up for the poor as our government stands against them.