Monday, October 28, 2013

I've Never Been Self-Sufficient

I've never been self-sufficient.

When I was in my mothers womb, I wasn't.

When I was born, fed and nurtured, I wasn't.

As I grew and grew up and went to school, I wasn't.

Good teachers helped me along the way, recognized my potential,
and did kindly things, challenging things, to shape my character.

In grade school, high school, college and seminary.

Great women and men, who, for whatever reason, came to my
side to help me along the way.

In all of this, I've never been self-sufficient.

The love of my life, my wife, has stood by me.
Cried and laughed with me.
Walked with me, run with me.

I've never been self-sufficient.

In ministry, every paycheck came with the hope, faith and love
of so many Presbyterians who shared a vision of Christ and
gave enough to support me and my family, as well as the church
and its mission.

Now in retirement, I enjoy Social Security and my pension: both
of which are mutual along with many others who've made the
journey of life and reached these years.

Have I ever been self-sufficient? Never.
And never will be either.

In the end, it's likely that some kindly nurses and doctors
will see to my needs.

Family and friends will tell me of their love.
And help me along the way to the end.

And when I die, others will handle my body
and dispose of my material remains.

I will live on for awhile in memories.

My breath will return to the sky.
My body to the earth.

And the earth and sky will hold it all.
All that I've been.
And will hold it with love.

I've never been self-sufficient.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

How One Looks at Poverty

One can look at poverty in the United States and blame the poor as victims of their own failures, inadequacies or general lack of "get-up-and-go." 

It's handy to do this, because the observer is conveniently slipping off the hook of responsibility - the kind of human, humane, responsibility that sees the deep connections between the poverty of many and the systems of the few. And that's the rub. Even a marginally successful person, if telling the truth, will have to admit to many "lucky breaks" and "free lunches" all along the way, as the system tilted favorably toward them. 

To understand poverty, from the inside, is to see how profoundly the system fails millions of Americans; not only failing them, but fighting them. And if one is on the wrong side of the system, all the spunk in the world won't work. All the drive that human beings possess naturally to make something of life will fail, and in the end, the system we presently have condemns millions to poverty. 

Some blame the poor, wash their hands of it, and walk away with a peaceful soul, thanking God for their blessings and quietly patting themselves on the back for their "success." 

Others look at the system and see how irrational and hateful it is. How evil it is, and work to transform it - transform the system, yes; but transform the soul of the nation, and the soul of those who wash their hands and congratulate themselves for what they have. 

To be devoted to this transformative work brings great satisfaction, but also the disapproval of many. 

How people look at poverty is the great divide in human history.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Cunning Tricks and the Privatization of Our Schools

This morning, I turned, happenstance, to Mark 14.1-2:

It was two days before the Passover and the festival of Unleavened BreadThe chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill himfor they said, “Not during the festivalor there may be a riot among the people.” [NRSV]

The Common English Bible has a bit more bite to it:

It was two days before Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and legal experts through cunning tricks were searching for a way to arrest Jesus and kill him. But they agreed that it shouldn’t happen during the festival; otherwise, there would be an uproar among the people.

As I read through the passage, given what I heard last evening from Diane Ravitch about American Education and the full-tilt effort of "reformers" (read corporate interests) to take over education, I found myself considering "the rich and the powerful" of Jerusalem and how they hated Jesus, and did everything they could to undo him, because the message of Jesus was for The People and their children.

In similar fashion, the rich and the powerful of our day are doing everything they can to undo American Public Education - with a cunning strategy -  spinning endless hoaxes about "just how bad things are," and telling American "we can rescue our children if you will only turn them over to us and our corporations."  

The large audience last evening [October 2, 013] at CalState Northridge was huge and enthusiastic, and gave me hope for the future, that maybe, just maybe, there might be a coming revolution in America, when The People finally realize what "cunning tricks" have been used by the rich and the powerful (read chief priest and legal experts) to destroy American Education - to turn our children into nothing more than worker-bees to compete in international markets.

But worker-bees are not we need or want - we want American Citizens who can think critically and be an informed electorate, and serve wisely on school boards and town councils (the last thing the rich and the powerful want).

And, btw, good citizens will always be good workers, able to compete in the international markets. But good citizens will also be able to see cunning tricks for what they are, and with sound legislation and wise politicians, craft laws that serve all the people all the time, with fairness and dignity for all.

Let's not forget that the rich and the powerful of Jerusalem made headway in their cunning and succeeded in destroying Jesus, at least for three days. And to this very day, the rich and the powerful plot his death again and again, because they hate him and his populist message.

The rich and the powerful always behave in this manner - nothing new here. 

Because the message of faith, hope and love, is always a threat to them, and though, for a time, the message may be killed and buried beneath a heavy stone sealed by the powers-that-be and guarded by their armies, those stones are always rolled away, and the message of hope rises again from the dead, to bring liberty to the oppressed and sight to the blind [Luke 4].


Diane Ravitch's latest book: The Reign of Error

Click Here for her Blog.