As Dow Rises, Don't Forget Those Left Behind


I think we can safely assume they (homeless, impoverished, unemployed) won't do much celebrating. I don't think they'll have much empathy for those who are making a bundle on the stock market, Greenfield says.
The Dow breaks 15,000! Whoopee!

Let's break out the bubbly and start the march toward 16,000.

I can't help fantasizing about what this will mean for my retirement accounts. You too?

But is everybody cheering? Is everybody looking ahead to a new high? Are fattened retirement accounts on everyone's mind?

Maybe not.

How about the 100,000 homeless people who are being removed from emergency shelters because of "sequestration"?

"Sequestration" is the policy agreed to by both the Obama administration and the U.S. Congress that wasn't supposed to happen – the $85 billion in automatic and indiscriminate cuts that would result if the politicians in the nation's capitol couldn't reach a compromise on a budget that would grow the economy and help reduce the national debt.

That was thought unthinkable at the time. But – surprise! – the parties couldn't agree. So the cuts started happening in March this year.

How about the 600,000 to 775,000 women and children who are being cut from WIC – the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children?

How about the hundreds of families who will lose rent assistance?

How about the elderly who won't get hot meals?

How about the children in poverty who will experience the consequence of $2.7 billion in cuts in programs like Head Start?

How about the long-term unemployed – 3.8 million of them – who see their benefits reduced by as much as 9.4 percent?

Oh yeah, all of those folks. I think we can safely assume they won't be doing much celebrating. I don't think they'll have much empathy for those who are making a bundle on the stock market.

Should any of us be cheering when our "one nation, under God" is so increasingly divided not just ideologically, but even more important, in terms of income and wealth?

Or maybe "unity" is only something Christians ought to worry about. You know, what Jesus prayed for in John 17.

It's a prayer not just for the disciples Jesus had around him at the time (the time just before his crucifixion), but also for those far into the future who will believe in him.

The prayer of Jesus is that the whole bunch – present and future – will be one, just as Jesus and his Divine Parent are one.

And not just sort of one but, as he prayed, "completely one" in the bonds of love and care for one another that characterized the relationship between God and God's anointed.

Well, we followers of Jesus over the centuries haven't done all that well in realizing Jesus' hope, have we?

Divided as we have been (and still are) ideologically, and in the vast inequalities among us in health, wealth, education, food, housing and virtually every measure that relates to well-being.

So, what right do we have, as Christians, to stand in judgment over our politicians for not achieving genuine unity in our nation?

And what right do we have to criticize our politicians if we, ourselves, are not a part of that cadre of advocates demanding that the nation recover its devotion, not just to freedom but also to equality, as an essential part of our national unity?

That would seem to be all the more relevant because Jesus' parting command to his disciples is "feed my sheep."

The ray of hope we can take from Jesus' prayer in John 17 is that he speaks of future unity subjunctively, "that they may all be one."

If and when that could occur, then it would be a real cause for rejoining!

Larry Greenfield is executive minister for the American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago. He also serves as editor and theologian-in-residence for The Common Good Network.

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Tags: Dow, Larry Greenfield, Poverty, Sequestration, Unity


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