I’ll start with my state. North Carolina has always been known as one of the more enlightened states in the South, with good schools, good social programs, good people. But what is going on in our legislature is not just random changes in our laws; it is a shift in the kind of state we are deciding to be. And it is disheartening and embarrassing.
I know that all the changes that folks in Raleigh are trying to bring about are happening under the guise of fiscal responsibility—a noble banner to carry in a Recession—but, when things are as tough as they are right now, maybe that’s when we should remember most that there are things to consider that are just as important as the bottom line.
Maybe now, when the chips are down and people are most fearful, it’s most critical for us to remember that children raised in poverty have trouble ever getting out of poverty and that the first two to three years of a child’s life are the most critical in that child’s brain development and that if we don’t want our streets and prisons of the future overcrowded with angry, poorly educated, frustrated people, maybe it’s time to take a stand.
Maybe it’s time to stand up, for instance, for quality child care, for every child in North Carolina. After all, when more families are living in poverty in our state, and families are desperately trying to work their way out of poverty, isn’t it time for all of us to join together to help those families with more subsidies, more high-quality programs? Isn’t it time to fight for tax reform that puts the greatest burden on those people most able to bear it instead of, once again, on poor people who don’t have the money or the time to fight for themselves? Why do we always consider raising the sales tax first?—because it’s the easiest to get away with.
I am disheartened by what I see happening in Raleigh, but I also draw encouragement from the wonderful protestors in Raleigh!
And I’m disheartened by what’s happening in Washington, the capital of my country, the country that, after all, elected Obama on a platform of change and hope—and possibility.
As we tighten and tighten our national social program belt, while leaving our military budget virtually intact, what choices are we making for our future? As we fight and fight over power in our House and Senate, while poor children stand hungry at the door, what kind of a people are we deciding to be?
It seems to me that if we do not start investing real money into the things that can really make a difference for this country, like good education for everyone, affordable health care for everyone, and real measures to decrease global warming, we are making some pretty bleak choices for the future of our children and our children’s children.
I would like to ask each legislator in Raleigh and Washington to take a minute before voting on any new bill to ask themselves two questions:
1) On my deathbed, will I be proud of my vote on this bill? And 2) If the people most affected by this bill were my children or my grandchildren, would I vote the same way right now?
Maybe I should put it this way: if I really walked in my neighbor’s shoes for one day, would I vote the same way?
Some of you tea party folks are always talking about bringing Christianity back into politics. Well, damn it, if nothing else will work to get people to come back to thinking of other people as their brothers and sisters, then let’s do it! Let’s redefine our political agenda based on an even stronger Christian basis. Maybe then, when it comes our turn to vote on education reform/immigration reform/environmental protection/using drones to bomb innocent people/and, yes, gay marriage, we might actually stop, take a breath, and ask ourselves:
“What would Jesus do, really?” And, for once, we might have the guts to listen to the truth that we can hear better with our hearts than our brains– and act accordingly!