In North Carolina, a broad coalition of religious and lay leaders have organized what they have called “Moral Mondays” protesting recent state cuts to social services funding. Last Monday, 1,400 demonstrators turned up and about 400 were arrested. The governor of the state has labeled them “outside agitators,” even though nearly every demonstrator is a North Carolina resident.
Like in many places in the US, the recent recession has been used to punish the poor even though blame – if there is blame – for the downturn rests with those at the top of the pile, not with those at the bottom. Income inequality continues to rise in the US, and with it a concurrent decline in national character. What can be said about a country that places more value on those who have more than enough and turns its back on those who have so little? It is a far cry from “the land of opportunity.”
Efforts to restrict voting, to demonize immigrants, to deny women the right over their own bodies, to deny same sex couples basic equality, to limit food assistance to the hungry, to cut back on pre-school education, to decimate public education, and on and on – these are the wrongs in our world at the present. If there is a terrorist threat, it is internal and it resides in those who look everywhere to punish the less fortunate. More children die each year from malnutrition and more die from gun violence than all the “terrorist” attacks combined.
Remember the line from the comic strip Pogo, “We have met the enemy and it is us?” Some in our political world seem to think their job is to eliminate evil rather than to reduce suffering, and they have it just backwards. Suffering is real and all around us. Evil? Well, we all have our own definitions of that
So here’s to Moral Mondays all over, to compassion rather than judgment, to mercy as well as justice. On this June 19th, (Juneteenth, remember) let’s turn our efforts to liberation and equality, to ending economic servitude, to a better society than we now have.
-Rev. Dr. Jim Nelson