Widening the Chasm

Idiom: a condition of being unequal of different, in disagreement, opposed. The idiom uses ‘odds’ to express the condition of ‘being unequal or different’ and transfers it to a difference of opinion or quarrel. [Late 1500’s]1


soapboxpileWe are a nation at odds. What does this mean, to be at odds as a nation? It could mean any number of things, I am going to tell you what I believe it means from my personal perspective. Given this is my personal opinion, although backed by a certain amount of boring statistical notations and research and facts, it remains my interpretation. There a couple of caveats I should make before continuing, I am a Boomer, I apparently do not follow my generation on many social trends, voting trends or overall political thinking. My guess is I am different from the majority of my cohort because of my life experiences, which are also vastly different from most of the Boomer generation (1946 – 1964).

How are we at odds?

First, there is the issue of being a ‘Christian’ nation that refuses to care for its weakest members, its aged, its children and those who cannot care for themselves. I find this to be fully ‘at odds’ with the philosophy born of the man who was Jesus of Nazareth, The Christ and all of the religious houses that lay claim to his teachings. One of my favorite examples of how American Right Wing zealots have fallen away from the teachings they pretend too is Matthew 31-46 The Son of Man Shall Judge the Nations, here is just a small piece of it if you are interested read the rest for yourself:

41“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42‘for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43‘I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’44“Then they also will answered Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45“Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’46“And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

How does this translate into how we behave as a nation? If as so many wrongly insist, we are a Christian Nation, why is it so easy to watch children go hungry, entire generations incarcerated, poverty grow and illiteracy expand. Why, if we are a Christian Nation, as so many wrongly insist is the culture of violence the only culture we worship with any fidelity?

The Farm Bill is mired in partisan bickering, with the R’s praying to the idol of greed and Ayn Rand to cut billions of dollars from SNAP (Food Stamps) thus ensuring children, disabled veterans, women, other disabled and the aged must learn to subsist on even less than $133 per month for food currently allotted (sometimes less). I don’t know about you, I am fairly certain I could not survive on approximately $4.36 per day. If these cuts go through, for those who do not lose their benefit altogether the new benefit will be approximately $90 per month that is $2.95 per day. How, tell me just how does this translate back into the whole Christian Nation thing? Just curious mind you.

Census_Poverty

census_Povertyageandgender

Not to be pedantic about this whole issue, however why does GOP wander down this path, revisiting entire swaths of the 2012 presidential election, trying hard to forget THEY LOST. Why are we bombarded with foul rhetoric, 42 votes to defund ACA at a cost to the American public of $84,000,000. This number is calculated based on a daily rate of $2,000,000 per day for each time Congress meets to vote on something they know does not have a snowballs chance of snowballinhellgetting to the desk of the President. Why do they continue this folly, at a time when the acolytes of Ayn Rand and her philosophy of absolute selfishness (not Christianity) are trying hard to forget there are consequences to elections and ignoring their own stump of deficit reduction and fiscal conservatism. I guess their principals only count when it isn’t them who might be hungry, without work, buried in student debt, losing your home or facing life without health insurance for your child or yourself.

We are a nation at odds, we truly are. I speak to so many people both on-line and face-to-face throughout the week who cannot seem to reconcile their ‘Christianity’ with their gut level responses to the current ideological rhetoric coming from talking heads, written word, elected officials and even their pastors. It is damned near pathological and it is frightening. When faced with reasoned argument they have no response, but to name call and fall back on age-old arguments.

  • “Are you saying you think children should go to bed hungry?”
    A penniless mother hides her face in shame after putting her children up for sale, Chicago, 1948

    A penniless mother hides her face in shame after putting her children up for sale, Chicago, 1948

    • “That isn’t what I am saying. Their parents should get a job.”
  • “What if there are no jobs? Are you saying those children should go to bed hungry, go to school hungry?”
    • No, I don’t want children to be hungry. I am not heartless. Their parents shouldn’t have had them if they can’t take care of them.”
  • “But they are here now; their mother didn’t have access to birth control and couldn’t have an abortion because in this state it isn’t available. Are you saying her children should go to bed hungry and go to school hungry?
    • “That isn’t what I am saying dammit. She should get a job. She should get off Welfare. Maybe she should give her children to the State.”

The above is a conversation I had recently with someone in a store, her comments are in blue. The person I had it with is someone I know fairly well, we talk often about these issues; obviously, we are on different sides of the chasm.

My question to everyone, how do we fix this? The 113th Congress is the most ineffective Congress in history. They have done nothing since their swearing in. They waste money and time, they continue down this path of attempting redefine the outcome of the 2012 Presidential election, THEY LOST. Whether or not you like the outcome, it is frankly not relevant. What is relevant?

  • Poverty is growing in this nation.
  • Incarceration is growing and becoming a for-profit industry.
  • Unemployment is not going down perceptively in this nation.
  • The infrastructure of this nation is crumbling.
  • The middle class of this nation is nearly dead.
  • Violence is growing
  • Global competitiveness is shrinking

The list goes on and yet we sit back and do not one damned thing but stroke ourselves for what? American Exceptionalism? Really?


1http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/At%20odds

http://frac.org/leg-act-center/farm-bill-2012/

http://www.offthechartsblog.org/farm-bill-amendment-would-pay-states-to-cut-off-snap-benefits-for-people-who-want-to-work-but-cant-find-jobs/

http://hungercliff.org/

http://www.fns.usda.gov/pd/34SNAPmonthly.htm

http://www.marketplace.org/topics/economy/health-care/what-cost-house-vote

http://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/p60-245.pdf

Comments

  1. I’ve often wondered how empires collapse – the Roman, the Persian, the whatever.

    Now, I’m having a front seat —- unfortunately.

    Peace my dear,
    Eric

  2. I become so incensed when I hear (or read of) conversations like the one you had with your acquaintance, it’s hard for me to think straight. I can’t fathom how you write so clearly in the face of such frustration. Having played Hulk/Iron Man with Li’l D yesterday, I just start feeling very “Hulk smash.”

    On the topic of that conversation in particular, I see that kind of lazy thinking in all facets of life. I didn’t used to see, before my ex; after a couple years with him, it was hard not to hear all the thinking that hadn’t gone on when people said certain things. (It wasn’t a political thing; he just had no tolerance for any BS at any time.) Now I start getting pretty adamant that people give a plan.

    “No, no, you can’t just say what needs to be done. You need to tell me how it’s going to be done. In these exact circumstances, come up with a specific plan to address the end result you think should just magically happen. Oh, you can’t come up with one even in the abstract? Shocker. Imagine how much harder it is when actually faced with poverty and hardship every single day.”

    I don’t know what it is, but the last year or so, I’ve felt much more open politically. I used to be very quiet about my political inclinations, but more by the day . . . they are what they are, and with reason.

    • I think the thing is, we always have to remember when we speak it has to be with reason and calm. I have lots of people in my world who think like this. I live in a semi small town with many small businesses I trade with all the time. I have gotten to know the people behind those counters pretty well over the years, we talk, in many cases we are even friends who share life stories. This despite are very real differences in political stances.

      The person above is not one I would call friend by the way, but I do see her frequently.

      To me, it is important to be able to answer the unreasonable stance with reasoned questions. If the stance is like the one above, personalize it and force that person to really think it through.

      I had a similar discussion with the same person on healthcare and the ACA. She was truly ignorant of what the legislation entailed. She is not ignorant of my challenges though. So I simply asked, “do you mean I should not have access to affordable insurance that I pay for out of my own money?” She stared at me, “That isn’t what I said.” I then explained the ACA to her, I showed her what she said and where she was getting the information, I then showed her the truth. I didn’t completely change her mind but I moved her a little bit.

      I have always been political, but I am more political now than I have been since the late 60’s and early 70’s. I think this is because it called for, it is needful. We cannot afford to leave a nation in rubble to our children and grandchildren. Those of us who chained ourselves to fences once before turned away thinking we had done our job, now see what has happened?

  3. Poverty. Violence. Why does it keep increasing rather than decreasing? Where is the government money really going? So many questions… few answers…

  4. My Grandma always told me that you were a Christian by deed and not be thought

    • My beloved and adored step-mother told me once I was more Christian than many church goes she knew. I am not a Christian, at the time I was slightly insulted thinking she was trying to goad me as I was much more of a hard ass back then. She left for church and I sat with my coffee to think about her words. I thought about them for months, the next time I saw her I asked what she meant. She said much the same thing your Grandmother said, it was our deeds, our acts and our walk through the world. I miss the mother of my heart a great deal, she taught great lessons.

  5. There’s so much to say about this post, and I think most of the comments above address the things I was going to say … a very important post, and lots to think about.

    • Thanks John, the issues are critical. Worse? There are so many important issues today it is damned near impossible to land on one and say, “this, this is the vital one”. Every single one of the are critical to our survival as a people and a nation. Turning our back, turning a blind eye, we fail.

  6. But if this woman you were talking to in the store would lose her job and can’t find a job immediately, and needs the assistance herself, you can’t count on “I’m entitled to assistance”, “I have to feed my family”, “the state should help feeding my children and not take them away” and so only. You’re not going to hear “I should just tough it out without any state help and hope I find a job before my family starves”, “I realize that I shouldn’t have had children”, “I’m need to give up my children to the state”. It’s that same feeling that tells us that WE are inherently good and so very special, but not THEM – no, THEY are definitely not good and certainly aren’t special. All of us have that feeling, and when a group of “WE” identifies the same common group of THEM – that’s when the division becomes visible, but the US against THEM divisions always there on the personal level.
    The most concerning thing is, as long as most parents keep teaching their children that they are all special, it’s not going to get any better.

    • All of which X, I pointed out to her. The US versus THEM is terrible, it establishes these dividing lines and creates the depersonalization of humanity. It allows us to turn off our compassion and empathy, reasoning the hungry child somehow deserves to be hungry. The sick child somehow deserves to be sick. The child dead in the street from violence, somehow deserves to be dead and his murderer somehow was in the right, a hero.

      I am frankly terrified by what I see us becoming.

  7. Oh Val I dug this one. Well thought out and incisive. Am also a Boomer. You go girl!

    • Thank you Rachael, it is hell to be from our cohort. We are responsible for much of this mess. Those fools in Congress, many of them belong to us or were birthed by us. How they hell did this happen?

      I have been thinking of you, lifting you to light. XXX

  8. Unfortunately we need to concede that the western nations in general are in the post Christian era. Maybe the façade has been preserved but the substance is missing.

    • Ian, the thought somehow there is a post Christian era this frightens me. Though history shows religion can be turned to good or evil, well we all know this is true. Zealots can do true harm, but faith and religion is also the means to do great good, without it society crumbles into anarchy. I am terrified of what this means.

      • Well I believe in an intelligent Higher Power who will not let evil have the final say. Of course there are different interpretations as to how this will be sorted out but I believe it will be sorted out. The term Post Christian Era has been thrown about quite a lot in the media.

  9. Amen, Sister-friend, amen! There isn’t a day that does by that I don’t pray for us (Christians) to get a wake-up call and come back from the dark side. My heart is breaking . . .

    • There are days I have to wonder why those people who lay claim to Christianity but walk some other path are not blasted by lightening bolts. I am not Christian, I do love the words of Christ though, love his ministry. I have known and do know many wonderful Christians in my lifetime, including many in my family (they pray for me all the time). I also have to wonder why those who have actually read the Bible, do not simply take down these false prophets these twisters of the word.

      But then, what do I know? Like you, my heart is breaking.

  10. ***I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.****

    Oooo, Val, you hit it directly on the nail. We are such Hypocrites…..

    Superb Post. Xxxxx

  11. Reblogged this on The Arkside of Thought and commented:
    Amen to this.

  12. I think that this statistic is a common one around the world, and it is just not good enough 😦 It is amazing where and how governments find money to give to other nations, or of course, to make the rich, richer… If only life was a little fairer at the grass roots level, but alas that never seems to fit the agenda 😦

    Have a lovely Friday evening and
    equally a wonderfully relaxing weekend 🙂

    Andro xxxx

    • The problem my friend? Yes, it is a common one however, we are supposedly the wealthiest nation in the world. We can afford to feed others, but not our own. We hold ourselves up as an example to other nations, yet leave our children in gutters, homeless and hungry. No, I don’t look for fair anymore. I look for what is right. I am past all the ideology and trash talk.

      Have a wonderful weekend yourself.

      Val

  13. Reblogged this on AMERICAN LIBERAL TIMES and commented:
    We really need to understand what the blogger is trying to get across to us with this post! This stuff is so vitally important to our future as a nation that I am absolutely compelled to re-blog it! (John Liming, American Liberal Times.)

  14. Sad to say this isn’t just happening in America. How long does it take for a politician to forget his humanity and what he went into politics for in the first place? When he becomes a fat cat and forgets what real life is like?

    • I know we are not alone, but I can only speak to the ridiculousness of what is happening right here and right now. When I see a politician vote to cut food for women, disabled and chilren while within the same bill increase his own payments for his farm subsidy, there is something fundamently wrong. I am tired or watching the immorality of our legislatures being thrown in our faces. I am even more tired of watching those who believe they are right, voting against their own best interest simply because they are too blind to see the truth.

  15. I wish I had the answers. But one thing I do know, as your table so nicely shows, is that children make up the highest number of people living below the poverty level. Therefore, it’s easy to see who will suffer most from cutting SNAP. So frustrating.

  16. A very powerful post, Val. And still just a small chip of the big iceberg. Kudos for tackling it so well and for specifically touching on the conflicting high Christian values. I think everyone can agree that politicians and lawyers (and lobbyists, and, oh, the list goes on) will pay the price on judgment day (let’s assume they believe in that since many certainly do profess to be righteous in a religious way). That’s all well and good but I sure wish judgment on their fate could came some time before that, like in THIS lifetime. And maybe it will. The lesser of the two evils for the common man is the D party, full of all it’s political mumbo jumbo too but maybe the R party will lose itself another presidential election, and then another, and then another, and then perhaps they might get it. At this point, neither “side” is appealing to me at all nor many of the shades in between. It’s all a bloody mess and is so disturbing. If judgment day isn’t here yet, hell certainly is.

    • While I find those in the Tea Party and the GOP to be of particular venom these days, I do not leave out those on the other side of the aisle. When you find yourself being the lessor of two evils, well there is something terribly wrong.

      If the only comupance is losing elections, I am sad. I would like to see something more, maybe time in their own for profit prison system would serve them well. I only know this must end, this useless Congress must be thrown out on the streets and the work of the people, all of us must be taken up. It is time to stand up and demand our voices be heard, not the voices of wealth but the voices of our children, those who will inherit the mess we are creating. If indeed we are a nation of Christians, then they must stand up and become righteously furious at this horrifying mess, this usurpation of what is a religion of compassion, for assuredly that is not what we are become.

  17. I live in a well-funded county and still there are kids who come to school without lunches every day. It breaks my heart to think of the children who are much worse off than those kids, who at, least, are taken care of by the school they attend.

    Another thought-provoking post, as always Val.

    • Thank you Stacie. It breaks my heart to think that large corporate farms will receive millions of dollars in offsets then add to this 23 members of Congress are receipients of these millions, the very millions they are voting on. So cut SNAP, let millions of our most vulnerable starve all the while you are voting to enhance the monies going to large farm industries you (congress) own. Yeah, that isn’t a conflict of interest.

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