The decisions we make do make a difference
By Vernon S. Broyles III | Presbyterians Today
Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but do not see, who have ears, but do not hear. … For scoundrels are found among my people; they take over the goods of others. Like fowlers they set a trap; they catch human beings. … Their houses are full of treachery; therefore they have become great and rich, they have grown fat and sleek. They know no limits in deeds of wickedness; they do not judge with justice the cause of the orphan, to make it prosper, and they do not defend the rights of the needy. Shall I not punish them for these things? — Jeremiah 5:21, 26–29
How long, O Lord? This anguished cry flows from the mouths of millions of beleaguered folks in this, the richest nation in the world. We hear reports of the wealth of our richest citizens and see on our streets those who have no place to sleep. We pass beggars at intersections with their cardboard signs asking for a pittance. Our star athletes are offered monumental amounts of money to play the sports we so avidly watch, and even those among them who grossly misbehave can afford fines in the millions of dollars.
We all are beneficiaries of the work of laborers, salespeople, clerks and assembly-line workers, who are paid at a scale that screams “injustice!” when the CEO is found to be paid in the top 1% of corporate leaders. Untold numbers of our neighbors are unable to afford even the most basic health care. Many, in fact, are forced to decide weekly whether they will seek medical help or eat a modest meal.
As Presbyterians — most of whom are at least “getting along,” and many of whom are doing far more than “making ends meet” — we are challenged by God to do more to impact the plight of those around us who struggle. We are called not only to be generous in our compassionate giving, but also to renew our commitment to change the aspects of our economic system that enrich the few and ignore the many. This system, called capitalism, is built upon human labor as capital, to be engaged at the lowest feasible cost, on the same basis that raw materials are obtained. The results are many working folks who are paid hourly and cannot earn a living wage.
And the questions before us are: “Where is the church of Jesus Christ?” Where are the Presbyterians?” Surveys indicate that denominations have lost much ground as a factor in influencing social, economic and political decisions across the United States. Yet our stated commitment to Jesus Christ challenges us to be engaged with the world — even the world of economics and politics.
We are in a critical time, when our political system is in turmoil. The question of how decisions are made by our political leaders is under scrutiny, and there are decisions to be made regarding how we as citizens hold our elected leaders accountable. These are faith decisions!
These challenges are not just national challenges. They face all of us as we work, as we order our personal and family lives, and as we join with our partners in faith to make the lives of those less fortunate more like what our compassionate and loving God wills for them.
Vernon S. Broyles III is a volunteer for public witness in the PC(USA)’s Office of the General Assembly.
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Categories: Advocacy & Social Justice, Hunger & Poverty, Presbyterians Today
Tags: capitalism, Compassion, generosity, inequity, injustice, Jeremiah 5, poverty
Tags: broyles, broyles iii, challenges, decisions, folks, found, hear, human, iii, jesus christ, leaders, paid, people, political, presbyterians, see, system, vernon, vernon s, world
Ministries: Presbyterians Today