Ok, before we have this discussion, you need to go here and read an article that I found very powerful. No, really, go read the article and then come back....
Ouch! What did you think? Maybe more importantly, how did you feel? I started out feeling a bit smug...hollering out an "Amen Sister!" as she pointed out the fallacies that many Christians believe about what Jesus did and did not say about helping those in need. I have always been confused and sometimes angered by the party who believes it speaks for all Christians, yet neglects to champion the causes of the people who Jesus championed; the poor, the destitute, the unlovable. The pervasive attitude has been that "those" people ought to quit being so ____ (you fill in the blank) and get their lives together. "Those" people should have evacuated New Orleans when they heard the warnings. "Those" people should be grateful to share the Astrodome with 10,000 other people (I usually really like Barbara Bush, but that statement was unbelievable.) So, having had this concern for many years with the current administration, I felt like this writer was speaking my language.
However, as I read on, I began to experience a different feeling. I think the feeling would best be described as guilt. As she suggested, we are all complicit. We have all given up on expecting our government (or ourselves) to do a better job. We have become comfortable with the fact that 37 million Americans live below the poverty line (which is a measly $14,680 for a family of three.) Senator Obama reminded us last week that the people of New Orleans weren't just abandoned during the hurricane. He said "They were abandoned long ago--to murder and mayhem in the streets, to substandard schools, to dilapidated housing, to inadequate health care, to a pervasive sense of hopelessness." And it is the same in cities all over this country, and even worse in many countries all over the world.
Why aren't we outraged? Outrage is sort of an uncomfortable feeling. And I am personally quite attached to my comfort, thank you very much. And it doesn't help that we have allowed the Religious Right to highjack any moral outrage we might be able to muster for a few, narrow agendas. One of the most powerful parts of the article was this:
"Which is how "Christian'' morality got to be all about other people's sex lives—and incredibly easy lifting compared to what Jesus actually asks of us. Defending traditional marriage? A breeze. Living in one? Less so. Telling gay people what they can't do? Piece o' cake. But responding to the wretched? Loving the unlovable? Forgiving the ever-so-occasionally annoying people you actually know? Hard work, as our president would say, and rather more of a stretch."
So, do we have any outrage left over? If we did, what do we do differently? What are the lessons learned from Katrina? Do we REALLY even care? Do I? Again, Ouch!!