Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Harbor In the Tempest


Dave-El here and welcome to my blog, I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You.

I do this silly thing on Fridays called Broken News which is my own little corner of that strange world known as news satire. Sometimes things happen in the world that are just begging someone to laugh at them, else we give in to the alternative which includes tears, sadness and a whole carton of mint chocolate chip ice cream.

Unfortunately, trolling for news headlines to make fun of means I see all the news that's just not funny.

We started this week off with another gun tragedy. The word I find most abhorrent in that sentence is "another". Really, how many times does this have to happen before we take meaningful steps towards curbing gun violence in this country? As I read the latest on the Navy Shipyard shooter, I'm struck not just that he was armed but that he was even there. This guy had a number of red flags that should've warned somebody to get this guy help before he becomes a danger to others. Curbing gun violence is not just about better gun control laws (although that's a very, very good place to start) but also improving and expanding access to mental health care, increasing resources to check backgrounds not just of gun buyers but of prospective employees. Any time there is another gun tragedy, there's the usual cries of "we must do something" then nothing gets done. Too many people with a vested, monetary interest in the status quo see to that.

In the wake of this tragedy, what does our Congress think is a priority for them? Taking food from poor people! What the tone-deaf Congressional GOP has done now is cut a big chunk of change ($39 billion worth of it) from food stamps. I'm not saying the food stamp program is sacred and should never be touch. But in a nation where too many people are still out of work and too many more have found work in fast food and big box retail working for minimum wage and no benefits, this Congress thinks, "You know what we should do? Cut food stamps!" Really!

Of course this is just the opening salvo in Congress's endless war with whatever President Obama wants; that's right, the GOP is looking once more to overturn Obamacare. Now is the health care reform we refer to as Obamacare a perfect thing? Oh hell to the no! a country where too many citizens have no health insurance and must rely on hospital emergency rooms for basic health care (which in turn drives up health care costs for everybody), it is reprehensible to me that we should not do something. But the House GOP isn't proposing to fix whatever they think is wrong with Obamacare. They're not proposing any new initiatives to make it better. The main goal is to get rid of it.


So one wonders if there is any sanity in this world, a world filled with mentally damaged people who think the way to solve their problems is to shoot lots and lots of people, a world filled with gun manufacturers, lobbyists and politicians who seem to determined to protect the 2nd amendment rights of those same mentally unhinged people. Is there any sanity in a world where a political party that touts itself has being aligned with God fearing people makes it a priority to hurt the least among us which I'm pretty sure was on Jesus's to-do list for us. 

Then I read about what Pope Francis said in a interview published today. The pope as been criticized for not speaking more about abortion, contraception and gay marriage. Pope Francis noted that “It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”

No, the pope did not say, "Gay is o-kay!" or "Go ahead, ladies, abort all the babies you want!" No, in fact he makes it a point of saying the church's teaching on these issues is quite clear. So no major sea change there. But the significance of this statement...“It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time" quite profound.

Too often organized religion gets more notice for what it stands against than what it stands for.  It seems people of faith are too busy decrying gay marriage or a woman's rights regarding her own body. The pope has not put a stop to these flashpoints of contention but what he's communicating is there are more urgent matters to attend to: men, women and children all over the world who need food, shelter, medicine. People who are oppressed by dictators, deprived of freedom, unable to worship. The innocents caught in endless warfare and limitless terror. There's a whole lot of people out in the world who fall under the heading "the least of these" and this is where Jesus said attention must be paid. Pope Francis has the audacity to agree with him. I find that refreshing in a time where so many so-called religious leaders seem to really have an issue with gay people. A lot. (My theory has always been that the more a religious leader comes out against homosexuality, the more likely he's going to come out as gay.)

Some disclosure: I grew up in a small town in the southern United States and was a member of a Baptist church. I am now, more or less, a Methodist. I say "more or less" in that I have my own struggles over matters of faith and religion. But of this I have no doubt: when we attend to the least among us, that will make us all better and happier people. In a world where chaos and ignorance seem to be on a daily march, the good we can do for another human being is our harbor in the tempest.

That's all for now. The  usual stupidity comes 'round tomorrow.

Until then....

Be good to one another.

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