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Common Good Sojourners

We’ve lost something as a nation when we can no longer look at one another as people, as Americans, and — for people of faith  — as brothers and sisters.  Differing opinions have become worst enemies and political parties have devolved into nothing more than petty games of blame….

It is not about Right and Left — or merely about partisan politics — but rather about the quality of our life together. It’s about moving beyond the political ideologies that have both polarized and paralyzed us, by regaining a moral compass for both our public and personal lives — and reclaiming an ancient, yet urgent and timely idea: the common good.

Source: On God’s Side: For the Common Good – Jim Wallis | God’s Politics Blog | Sojourners.

I always look forward to the weekly emails from Jim Wallis about our times. The words above from his March 29 emailing which I believe strike at the heart of our current problems. They seem to be the core cause and solution to our problems today. We are no longer able to view those who differ in their political views as Americans like us.  Our politics has devolved into nothing but a petty game of blame. I don’t know exactly how this happened but I kind of have an idea of some of its causes.

Rush Limbaugh came on the national political scene in 1988. His rhetoric shocked many of us as blatant bigotry and hatefulness.  He is plain a simply a school yard bully on the national scene. But it seems bigotry and hatred sells as his most recent contract was for $400 million for an eight year period. That money has spurned hundreds of look-alikes over the years.  I simply can’t understand how Mr. Limbaugh became a major spokesman for the GOP.  I can’t understand how so many who call themselves conservatives are so fearful of denouncing his rhetoric? He has been married four times; seems to have no family values, and shows a putrid disrespect for almost everyone. Is that really the face that conservatives want to be identified with?  I think not but they seem still listen to him in great numbers and “ditto” almost anything that spews out of his vulgar mouth.

Fox New came on the national scene in 1996. It is very obvious that Rupert Murdoch who owns this media is very much in the same mindset as Mr. Limbaugh. MSNBC came into existence in 1996, some say as a response to Fox News but in a much smaller framework.  These three things I think are the major contributors to the reason we can no longer look at one another as fellow Americans but instead now as the enemy.  I like to call these contributors the “Limburger Affect”. It put a putrid stink on all our political processes!

I pray that something can happen to allow us to get back to looking at the quality of life in both our personal and public lives. If only we can get back and “reclaim an ancient, yet urgent and timely idea: the common good.

The Common Good….

April 12, 2013

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Jim Wallis

Today, on the National Mall, I stood with fellow faith leaders, including clergy from Newtown, to remember lives lost at Sandy Hook elementary school and the 3,364 gun deaths that have happened since.

We stood in front of a field of crosses, Stars of David, and other grave markers, and it broke my heart to think that each one stood for a life ended too soon. It doesn’t have to be this way. Commonsense steps to reduce gun violence are within our reach. Just today the Senate voted to begin the debate. But there is much work to do. Lawmakers need to hear from you. 

This is one of the clearest examples of a stark democratic choice: the old politics of guns or the morality of the common good. The clergy are here today for the common good.

The words above are from my weekly email from Jim Wallis of Sojourners.  More people are killed on our streets and homes annually than were killed in Vietnam of my generation or of any war since then.  I certainly pray that there will be enough of  us willing to stand up for the common good in this and many other areas…

Sojourners1Children should bury their parents; parents should not have to bury their kids. Pastors should conduct funerals for the elderly, not for children killed by gun violence. When the proper order of things keeps getting turned around, something is wrong. The ongoing epidemic of shootings – whether in an elementary school or on city streets – shows something in our society has gone terribly amiss.

The problems are obvious, which makes the lack of action by our leaders morally unconscionable. Politicians have refused to enact common-sense gun laws that prevent dangerous people from getting weapons to kill large numbers of people, because they fear the power and influence of the National Rifle Association. When the NRA receives millions of dollars in funding from gun manufacturers, their interest is protecting profits even at the cost of innocent life. 

This is not a debate about the Second Amendment. It is about the idolatry of guns – the worship of weapons of mass murder.

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The Above message is from my friends at Sojourners

Jim WallisI got another of those wrenching emails from my friend Jim Wallis over at Sojourners. He sends out a weekly email entitled “Hearts & Minds”.  Here is part of the content:

In the past 20 years, the world has witnessed the death of social contracts. We have seen a massive breakdown in trust between citizens, their economies, and their governments. In our own country, we can point to years of data painting a bleak picture of the confidence Americans have in any of our traditional institutions.

Former assumptions and shared notions about fairness, agreements, reciprocity, mutual benefits, social values, and expected futures have all but disappeared. The collapse of financial systems and the resulting economic crisis not only have caused instability, insecurity, and human pain; they have also generated a growing disbelief and fundamental distrust in the way things operate and how decisions are made. 

Sometimes we just don’t see the forest for the trees so to speak. So, when I saw the words above I was almost shocked with their simplicity. Could it really be that simple that we have just lost trust in each other to do what we think is right?

In our country one group doesn’t trust the other to not give away the country to those who are gaming the system. In return that group does not trust the other to not jerk the safety net out from senior citizens and the helpless.  As a result of the mutual distrust we have lost almost any sense of shared values. We no longer trust our government and almost everything else  for that matter. This lack of trust is not only a U.S. thing, it is a world-wide problem.

Is it even possible to restore a lost trust?  The final paragraph in this email maybe points us to a way to finding solutions:

Lack of trust is bad for politics, bad for business, and bad for overall public morale. It undermines people’s sense of participation in society as well as their feelings of social responsibility, and makes them feel isolated and alone—more worried about survival than interested in solidarity. Because the “contract” was broken, a sense of “covenant” is now needed, fused with a sense of moral values and commitments. And the process of formulating new social covenants could be an important part of finding solutions. 

To me a covenant is more than just a signed agreement between two parties as its definition implies. It is more along the lines of the biblical covenant between God and us that he will never forsake us.  The email is mainly about the World Economic Forum now taking place in Davos, Switzerland. The forum is looking to the future and asking “what now?”  It is  kicking off a year-long global conversation about a new “social covenant” between citizens, governments, and businesses. I will be watching for news about it.

I’m not much of a believer in forums, committees, and such actually accomplishing anything of the magnitude needed to address this issue but maybe a single spark from the forum could just kick off a world-wide event. We can only pray that it be so….

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Jim WallisJim Wallis is one of my current day heroes. He is editor-in-chief of a magazine called Sojourners.  Here is their mission statement:

The mission of Sojourners magazine is to inspire hope and action by articulating the biblical call to racial and social justice, life and peace,and environmental stewardship

I have been getting their magazine for some years now and from his writings I feel I almost know him on a personal level. He also sends out  frequent e-mails about brother’s keeper issues.  He inspires me to do what I can to love my neighbor no matter his race, religion, or economic circumstances.  Here are some of his words from the latest e-mail about the politics of the “fiscal cliff”.

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Sojourners….

September 30, 2012

With my ingrained altruist and “Follower of Jesus” worldview I am naturally drawn to and inspired by Sojourners magazine.  This month’s issue is centered about making sure those in impoverished neighborhoods have access to quality education.  I hope some of you will consider subscribing.  No, I am not being paid anything for this endorsement.