The news, mainstream and blogosphere, saw the possible shut down of government as the inability to visit the Smithsonian or Yosemite National Park, or not receiving tax refunds and payment of outstanding invoices by government entities. No one discussed the class warfare that has escalated over the last four decades. But that is what it was and will continue to be.
Over my six decades on this planet, I have had the wonderful opportunity to meet not just the occasional local politician, but world leaders. This includes sitting with 2,000 others to listen to the 14th Dalai Lama and Pope John-Paul II, and personal moments with presidents Carter and Clinton and Vice President Al Gore. I have spent hours reading the enlightened words of Martin Luther King Jr., John, Robert and Edward Kennedy, John Locke, Plato and Aristotle. Today the words are of Noble Prize Laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
It amazes me how those who are leaders of their faiths are so humanist in their thoughts. Even the title of Tutu’s book, edited by John Allen, is “God is not a Christian.” It is a commentary of a universal truth, not one that belongs to Christians alone. That it is an insult to all humans by proclaiming that all humanity is without purpose if not for Christianity.
Tutu makes a bold statement that many, in fact too many, are scared of the vast variety of beliefs, ethnicities, customs and political ideologies that are represented on this planet. That we have “an allergy against the different, the other.” Tutu continued “that Christians do not have a monopoly on God is almost [a] trite observation.”
Most important is his dismay that many who proclaim to be Christians see the poor as those who do not want to help themselves. It is, in fact, those who are unable to care for themselves, those in lower economic classes, those who cannot find work, those with illnesses and our children that many faiths and humanists believe these are the people we must care for. This is not an option, but a virtue, the human moral values that makes one “god like.”
It has become evident than those claiming their Christian beliefs as their guide are taking political stances to eliminate Medicare and Medicaid, Head Start and public school education, and denying unemployment benefits to those who have had no luck at finding work after 18 months. We have seen this over the “small” budget fight last week and will see it in full force in the coming months concerning the 2012 federal and state budgets. They are not Christians in the true sense of the faith.
These same men and women resort to bullying tactics to get their own way. These same extremists who claim to be patriots are holding unemployment benefits as hostage. These same extremists who are using the United States military and Home Land Security much as the Sword of Damocles. They see health issues as a bargaining wedge. Their social/religious agendas are the weapons to prevent the continued operations of the United States Government. They want the government to shut down. The very definition of anarchy and creates a national bully.
A “Bully” is defined as those who “pick on the people they think don’t fit in, maybe because of how they look, how they act, their race or religion… they have no feelings of empathy or caring toward other people.” This defines many of the right-wing anarchists, including members of Congress, claiming their Christianity as their guide.
These same politicians and religious zealots have added “entitlement,” along with “liberal” and “progressive,” as their newest four-letter words in their lexicon. They believe that by cutting spending while cutting taxes will get American back to solid financial standings. They still believe in trickle down economics, which never worked in the past. They are placing the blame and the burden on those whose backs are permanently bent under the weight of poverty, illness and age.
Last week’s budget fight ended in a stalemate concerning Planed Parenthood, The Corporation for Public Broadcasting and other concerns that will not create jobs, and will not put a single scratch in the $14-plus trillion American debt. These are social and political issues, mired in the religious-political muck.
One does not need to be a person of religious standing to know that giving a hand to those who need the help is a noble and virtuous thing to do. In fact, as defined by Aristotle, virtue has nothing to do with one’s beliefs but with one’s humanity. That one can be “god-like” without believing in a god.
The conservative extremists are forcing their version of political and religious beliefs on the American citizen. They have threatened to shut-down the services so many Americans depend on just to get by day-to-day, to get a head start in education, to preserve the health of the economically poor and elderly. They are not Christians or Jews or Muslims or atheists. They are bullies who have pushed once too often.
The right-wing extremists who claim to be Christians have targeted Muslims, the poor, the blue-collar worker, the elderly and the disabled. They have targeted science, social and historical studies, and mathematics, bringing the United States education system, once the best on the planet, to its knees. They are targeting the Constitution itself wanting to, as former governor and presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee has said, bring God into this great document.
The neo-extremists claiming that God is on their side do not understand the nature of belief or their own holy books, for even Jesus saw the good within all women and men regardless of faith. As Desmond Tutu strongly suggests, God is not a Christian, cannot be a Christian, for there are many who have achieved true virtue who are Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim and atheist, and all God’s creation. Who would deny that Mohandas Gandhi was not the saintly man the title of Mahatma defined?
The Christian Science Monitor’s Robert Reich attacked this same issue in his commentary titled “Right-wing bullies will hold the nation hostage.” He wrote, “In fact, spending cuts now will… cause immense and unnecessary suffering for millions of Americans.”
We can no longer ignore them or capitulate to the bullies’ demands. We as citizens and as people of virtue must not allow this bulling to continue. The President must not let this bulling continue. We cannot limit our actions to verbal condemnation alone, but we must stand tall, look these bullies in the eye and say “No more” in one voice. We must do this as citizens of this great nation and of the world, together as one.
David Rosman is an award winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in Communications, Ethics, Business and Politics. You can read more of David’s commentaries at ColumbiaMissourian.com and New York Journal of Books.com.