"I'm what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man. And I've failed much more than I've succeeded. And each time I fail, I get my people together, and I say, "Where are we going?" And it starts to get better." - Calvin Trager
To overcome dangers in our world, we must also take the offensive by encouraging economic progress, fighting disease and spreading hope in hopeless lands. Isolationism would not only tie our hands in fighting enemies, it would keep us from helping our friends in desperate need. We show compassion abroad because Americans believe in the God-given dignity and worth of a villager with HIV/AIDS, or an infant with malaria, or a refugee fleeing genocide, or a young girl sold into slavery. We also show compassion abroad because regions overwhelmed by poverty, corruption and despair are sources of terrorism, organized crime, human trafficking and the drug trade.
In recent years, you and I have taken unprecedented action to fight AIDS and malaria, expand the education of girls, and reward developing nations that are moving forward with economic and political reform. For people everywhere, the United States is a partner for a better life. Shortchanging these efforts would increase the suffering and chaos of our world, undercut our long-term security and dull the conscience of our country. I urge members of Congress to serve the interests of America by showing the compassion of America.
They were good because they drew a clear link between poverty and terrorism -- a link that is far more evident and real than the imagined link that justified a war in Iraq. They were good words because it bound our future together with those in extreme poverty -- both for our security and for our moral future.
They were good words. And good words are something to build on -- particularly when the 2007 federal budget hits the Hill.
But they were only 191 words. One hundred ninety-one words out of 5,304. That's roughly 3.6 percent or 1/28th of the speech. Compare that to 2,074 words about the war in Iraq and what could be viewed as a warmup to conflicts in places like Iran and Syria. 2074/5304 = 39 percent of the speech.
A little is better than nothing. Those 191 words were good words. Fine words. Words to be proud of. Words that, one hopes, will lead to prophetic and powerful action.
But I can't help but long for a day when our President spends 2074 words talking about our historic ability to eradicate extreme poverty, HIV/AIDS, malaria and the like from our planet. About our ability to provide univeral primary education, empower women and ensure clean drinking water for every person ... and 191 words about war.
I can't help but long for a day when I listen to a State of the Union speech and am stirred, inspired. When I feel the promise of great possibility gnawing at the base of my spine. The promise of our nation fulfilling the greatness it truly has in it ... and me being a part of it.
I read a document today that began to make me feel that way. It was called "State of the Faithful" and it was put out by the National Council of Churches. Here's a sample:
In little more than two centuries, the United States of America has grown from a band of fledgling colonies to one of the grandest nations in the history of the world.
Much has been said of the wisdom that has guided this great nation across the centuries; the wisdom of its founders, its constitution, and, at a few pivotal times, it's elected leaders.
Yet thousands of years before there was a United States of America, the Hebrew Prophet Micah proclaimed in just a few words what would be a moral standard for persons of faith and the nations they build. He declared, “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God?”
In light of these words, the state of our Union is troubled indeed. As persons of faith and conscience we hold ourselves to a standard that measures more than our economic wealth and military might. We recognize that we are more than consumers, voters in red or blue states, taxpayers, polling numbers, demographics, target markets and all the rest. As human beings living together on this planet we know that we are, as the Judeo-Christian tradition reminds us – our brother's and our sister's keepers. We are, as Native American Tradition teaches, guests of this planet – not its owners. We are, as Jesus taught us, the “light of the world.”
We are also the living agents of Micah's prophetic call. So let us examine just how we are doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly.
Read the rest here. It's actually lighter on global opportunity than I would like, but it uses the right lens. The lens of justice, mercy and humility.
And as much as people are abusing Corretta Scott King and her husband for political capital today, that's what they really stood for.
| Mike at 1/31/2006 09:38:00 PM
EGR resources and connects the church to embrace what one person, one congregation, one diocese and one church can do to make this mission of global reconciliation happen.
Want to find out more ... check our our website at www.e4gr.org.
"Christ's example is being
demeaned by the church if they ignore the new leprosy,
which is AIDS. The church is the sleeping giant here.
If it wakes up to what's really going on in the rest
of the world, it has a real role to play. If it doesn't,
it will be irrelevant."