The Sequester occurring now because of the dysfunction of Congress is good material for jokes, although it is not funny. That those most likely to be hurt by this are those least able to bear the brunt of the effects is just a sad commentary on where we are as a nation. It is no wonder that the US Congress is less popular that head lice, cockroaches or colonoscopies – even less popular than North Korea.
I remember a few years ago listening to a radio conversation about the US budget and all the talk was about the bottom line, about whether deficits were good or not. Never was there any mention what kind of nation we were creating; it was if we had simply become an equity fund, nothing more. It seems as if the creation of wealth has become the highest good, rather than the kind of country we are. It is a stretch to even think we are a nation anymore, but have become a collection of isolated individuals
If individualism has a downside, it is that there is little concern for others. Many of those who say they love America the most, do not, I think, but rather love themselves and care little about the rest of us. This is true, I believe, of many of those loudest about the right to own guns. How can that right be balanced by the deaths of so many?
Our faith tradition has always emphasized the individual. Emerson was a champion of the individual; Whitman’s poetry is often a hymn to the self. In our congregations, though, we are also a community, not just a collection of individuals. We have responsibilities to each other. We get and we give. They balance is not always easy, but our lives, if they are to be what they should be, must be both – lived both for our own self and for others.
Unlike the Congress, we will not leave behind those who need help, and unlike Congress we believe in generosity, and unlike Congress we are willing to work together, even when we disagree, for the good of the whole. Creating a community, a beloved congregation, is hard work and it takes all of us – giving and receving.