At the turn of the 20th century, W. E. B. DuBois commented that either the United States would destroy ignorance, or ignorance would destroy the United States. We are dangerously close to fulfilling this prophecy. This is a frightful thought for which we bear complete responsibility. We have to take our part in the working for change. We, for instance, are now in a position to do something about all the suffering in the inner cities. We are the only ones who can make the change; others are either incapable of doing it or do not care to do it.
I just finished reading Chris Matthews’ novel on the life of Bobby Kennedy, a truly fascinating study of RFK’s life. I learned a lot and I remember a lot from that time. In this novel, Matthews comments on RFK’s travels through the South to discover that there were people who were so poor that one child commented that his diet consisted of a couple of teaspoons of molasses a day. Sights, such as these, caused Kennedy to be on the side of the non-privileged in our society. He could not believe that in a country as wealthy as the United States, there were people forced to live like that.
I contend that conditions for the poor have not changed all that much relative to the change in the rest of society. Our leaders have been so concerned with the taxes paid by the well off and the corporations that they have completely forgotten those at the bottom of our society. Between stagnant wages and the desire to remove state-sponsored health care, the poor in the United States are suffering. Money is withheld from public schools preventing the poor from earning the education necessary to succeed in our high-tech economy.
We need to open the blinds and shine a light on this issue. Our future depends on it. If we shine a light on it, bringing these conditions into the light, greater understanding will result; which in turn will produce trust, unity, and eventual love shared by all. This sounds simplistic, but the lack of substance creates suspicion, hated, and disunity, causing a split in the objectivity of our society. Jesus said that we are the light of the world, and no one lights a lamp and puts it under a bushel basket. This is exactly what we have done to the poor in our country. Jesus also said that we are to let our lights shine before the world so that others can see our good works, which in turn glorifies God.
We are not glorifying God with our lack of concern for the poor. In effect, we are the destructive force that is allowing ignorance to destroy the United States. It’s late, but I do not think it is too late to reverse course. But we cannot sit back thinking others will act; they won’t; we must. As the youth of the world demonstrated about guns earlier this month, they called out all to vote, to vote for what we think is right about gun control.
I make the same call for us to vote for those who are willing to balance things in our society so that all of our brothers and sisters can live in the light of our Lord.