Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Poverty and Homelessness: Who Cares?

"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least among you, you did not do for me.'" (Matthew 25:41-45)

“And if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.” (The Qur’an 5:32)

“Poverty is the worst form of violence." (Gandhi)

"Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons." (Woody Allen)

"Jesus answered, 'If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.'" (Matthew 19:21)

I thought I may as well weigh in on this discussion of homelessness and poverty that Griff and Donald have started. Perhaps I come from a very different place, but it seems that we as a society have decided in this The Second Gilded Age that we just don't care about poor and homeless people at all and see them as just reaping the harvest of their choices. For at least the last twenty-five years -- through the administrations of right wingers who believed in the literal word of scripture and Dick Cheney and left wingers who believed in both the holiness of scripture and blow jobs --, we have embraced social policies that destroyed the social safety net and that manifested a radical social darwinism. Systemically, we have said to poor people, "we are tired of you and your whining --- you are bringing us down --- don't you understand that the reason you don't have all that we have is because you have not worked hard enough, you are lazy and lacking in education, because you dropped out. Sorry that many of you had long long ago ancestors that lived in slavery, but we just don't care. You are on your own now. We have power and will move you where we want to move you and make social policy that is driven by what is convenient for us." So what happens when you to say to desperate people, "you are on your own to make do; you get what you get in this world because you get what you deserve"? A social policy built on the theology of the survival of the fittest means that it is power against power -- who knows who will win -- yet it puts us all in a war zone.

And, how can it be that we have a museum down the road a little ways dedicated to the literal truth of the Hebrew scriptures when it comes to science and creation, yet have a society of literal believers who do not believe Jesus literally meant what he said when he said "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." So contrary to all scientific findings, dinosaurs and humans roamed the earth at the same time, but Jesus was just kidding around when he said this. Hmmm. . . . . .

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