Sunday, August 23, 2009

Crass and Critical

So sue me.

At times, I must admit, I have criticized others and been a bit indelicate about how I attempted to make my opinion about somethings known. For example, I once used some pretty heady words when arguing in support of the federal school breakfast program that was eventually adopted in one of the schools where I taught. The teachers, yes -- teachers, opposed to the program had lame excuses for their lack of charity ranging from "I don't want crumbs on my carpet" to "Why can't 'those people' get up in the morning and feed their own kids". The problem is, and remains, that we indeed have poor folks among us. If I remember correctly, over 2/3 of the school population that we served in that particular building were families that qualified for free or reduced lunches. A breakfast program was a logical extension of the public school's mission to serve the needs of the poor. It helped the families economically and, of course, all those studies about school readiness and eating breakfast informed us of the vital importance of such a program.

"We're supposed to be in this profession to serve these kids" was an argument lost even on some of the Christianists with whom I worked. I literally wanted to bang a few heads together or ask for a doctor's note to certify that the complainers actually had hearts. Unfortunately, when the program was finally underway in our building the mechanics of it, I believe, did not exactly encourage participation. The breakfast kids were segregated from the rest of the classroom as they had to eat the federally approved meal in the school cafeteria rather than in the classroom as we had in another school where I taught. Having breakfast in the classroom would have had the advantage of encouraging other kids to buy breakfast or bring a breakfast snack to school to eat with Mr. Harris and the kids having the free or reduced price meal. That's what we did in my other school. The crumb-a-phobes won out. And, some teachers just didn't want any hint of inconvenience.

As we continue to watch the health care "debate", I can't help but think about the lack of charity and compassion there seems to be for the poor. There really hasn't been any debate. One side has tried to educate the public about the need for reform and the various and separate pieces of legislation needed for true health care reform. The other side just says "No, no, no". The moral imperative of providing for the care of the uninsured and the under-insured is being overlooked.

According to an editorial in the New York Times today, the Institute of Medicine estimated that in 2004 that perhaps 18,000 deaths a year among adults could be attributed to lack of insurance. That's 3 World Trade Centers coming down each year..... And, how about our children, the most vulnerable among us? I want to know those sad numbers, too. Really, Folks, where are the ministers and churches right now? Why isn't Rick Warren or the CBN or anyone with any pull among the faithful screaming for our country to do their "Christian Duty"?

I am beginning to believe that the Christianists in America are really closet Darwinists. They seem to support the evolutionary theory of the survival of the richest and fittest. Or is there some belief that all the poor have chosen to be uninsured. You know, some sort of perverted life-style choice. Maybe, prayer and attendance at some Ex-Poor ministry will cure them.

It all really boils down to this -- we the people are the government. It says so in the Constitution. We the people need to decide if we want a we the people program to assist in the health and welfare of we the people who are not as well off as the rich tyrants that say "NO, NO, NO" and "Keep the damn crumbs off my carpet!" I am praying that common sense and compassion win out.

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