Our Readers Write...
Posted: Friday, December 28, 2012 7:00 pm
Americans need to come together to solve problems
To The Editor:
As a concerned citizen of this great nation, I am astonished at the level of hate and misinformation that permeate our citizenry. I have read one editorial after another vilifying other fellow Americans, I am so frustrated at the perpetuation of disdain in our society for those who have worked hard and achieved success. I am not wealthy, nor am I poor but I have never hated others for what they have attained through successful ventures and years of sacrifice. When did the American way become you give me some of what you worked for just because I deserve it and it seems fair! Really? What happened to having the freedom to work hard with the hopes of achieving our dreams? What happened to personal responsibility? Sometimes life deals us a bad hand, is it the rich man’s fault? I was raised in a household that struggled to make ends meet, but you never found my parents demanding someone else take care of them and they never asked for governmental assistance. They worked hard to keep me and my siblings clothed and feed. They put in a garden, my mom sewed and we only purchased bargains. That is what America used to be, resourceful, determined and proud simply to be free. Our great nation has fallen, we have forgotten our founding and how we became the greatest nation in the world and why. My heart breaks on a daily basis because of the state of our nation. Never in my lifetime has there been such a division.
With that said, the divisiveness in Washington has created an atmosphere that is so convoluted with skewed facts and political rhetoric. Our nation is in dire straits, we are spending $.46 of every dollar and our national debt is $16 trillion and counting with a deficit well over a trillion dollars. Every citizen today owes $52,036 in national debt. If we took every dime the “demonized” 1 percent has, it would only run our government for around a month. Our government is upside down and oversized. No one in Washington seems to care about re-establishing our nation or making the hard choices to steer us back. The tactic of turning Americans against one another helps no one aside from those in power. Why label each other? We are all Americans, we come from different backgrounds and circumstances but in this nation, which is blessed by the Almighty, we can become or do whatever our hearts desire. The only roadblocks are the ones we have allowed our government to put in our way. America is still a great nation even when we falter. I have faith in the goodness that all Americans embody, we have always come together and made America better and I pray we will soon find our way.
Fincher should cut taxes and lower spending
To The Editor:
I read with interest your coverage of the protest outside U.S. Rep. Fincher’s office. I especially found interesting the chant which was shouted: “Millionaires, fair share. Middle class, not fair.”
I’m curious as to how much they believe is the millionaires’ fair share. The top 25 percent already pay 86 percent of the federal income tax. Most already pay 30 to 50 percent of their income to the government in taxes. And yet they are expected to pay more? How much is enough? Even if millionaires paid 100 percent of their income in taxes, we could only run the government for a few weeks. The problem is not income; it’s spending.
I, for one, am thankful for millionaires. They give jobs to the poor and middle class. They also donate to charities, which help the poor. So, what happens when the rich have to pay more in taxes? There is less money for jobs. In fact, the poor and middle class lose their jobs. There is also less money given to charities. Now the charities are in trouble because more people are asking for help and there is less money to share with them. Why do we want to hurt the very people who help us? Just remember, higher taxes equals less money and less money equals less jobs, and jobs are the very thing our community and Weakley County needs. Let’s all ask Rep. Fincher to vote for lowering taxes and cutting spending and watch our economy grow.
Reader responds to essay on Sandy Hook shooting
To The Editor:
I’m responding to Jane Ogg’s essay on Dec. 18. Ms. Ogg offers an in-depth consideration of God’s role in the Sandy Hook tragedy and in the workings of humanity. But there’s a missing component: our own role and responsibility in the world, not only in response to unspeakable brutality or disaster, but on a daily basis.
Great evil has been done in Christ’s name, including using scripture to support slavery and oppression of African-Americans and Native Americans here in the U.S. However, people have also united together out of moral or religious belief, including Christians acting on what they believed they were called to do, to end slavery and oppression. And people, in God’s name, have continued working for equality and justice at home and in the world.
Sandy Hook isn’t our first burial of children killed by firearms in the U.S. As President Obama reminded us, just in his first term, he’s faced mass shooting four times. Why have these shootings happened here, where gun laws are weak and firearms easy to acquire? If the problem isn’t guns, as NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre insists, then what is our problem? What is so toxic in our culture that we are raising highly disturbed mass shooters who’ve grown to see no value in their own lives or the lives of others?
Whatever the causes, certainly God would not have us just sit by, pray, and wait for Him to act, while we are free of any responsibility to both examine our own lives and then actively work for real change in our relationships, homes, schools, communities, state, nation, world. What are we teaching our youth about how to treat others? how to respond to bullying or injustice? how to treat animals and our natural resources? how to respond to tragedy or disaster? what their responsibilities are as community members and global citizens? What are they learning from watching us live and interact with others and in the world?
Christian or not, we’re all neighbors, community members, consumers, taxpayers, voters, and citizens, and all those hats we wear as humans come with the obligation to act to make the world a better place. Even for Christians with no deep commitment to this world because of the expectation of an eternity in heaven, if the Holy Spirit of the Living God of resurrection lives within them, then just by living daily as the Spirit guides, there is no way they can’t fill the world with love, peace, patience, kindness, and all the fruit of the Spirit, at least in theory. That is, God acts through us.
Ms. Ogg’s letter appeared in the same edition as the report on the effort by local citizens to communicate their views on the impending national fiscal crisis to their elected representative, Stephen Fincher. I’m one of those citizens. Regardless of your agreement or disagreement with our views, the point here is that we acted. We shared our views with others, we planned with others, we made phone calls, we wrote letters to area newspapers, and we took time to bring our message directly to our representative, all despite the fact that it was inconvenient to do so for most if not all of us. We learned about the issue at hand, which took even more time we each didn’t have, we shared what we knew with each other, we provided encouragement to each other. Then we acted because we believed it was the only right thing to do — and we couldn’t postpone it until a more convenient time.
The question Ms. Ogg didn’t ask, but that’s just as relevant as “why would God allow 20 innocent children to be gunned down?” is why do we allow it? Why does tragedy after tragedy occur, daily in some children’s neighborhoods, and heated debate about causes or solutions is our only response, followed by angry judgment against those who disagree? Why do we allow our rights to carry semi-automatic assault rifles to outweigh the rights of our own children to live? Why does our need to be right surpass our need to live and work in community with others? Why are we so much more willing to cast judgment and demand that “they” change than we are to judge ourselves and demand change of ourselves?
Years ago there was a bracelet Christians wore, WWJD: What Would Jesus Do? Well, what would He do? How would He respond to the Sandy Hook shooting (occurring after so many recent mass shootings)? What would He do in response to the shooting deaths of innocent children that occur every day in troubled neighborhoods? What would He do in response to our demand that we have to have unfettered access to assault weaponry at all cost? What would He do about the fact that so many children are starving every day in our world? What would He say in response to our national ethos that aggressive, deadly action seems to be our first and only responsible option in the face of disagreement or threat? How would He respond to our inaction?
I’m a doubting Christian. I left active evangelical practice decades ago after growing so weary of the fruit I saw and heard from people and pulpits insisting that their understanding and practice of God was the only right one, and calling much more often for God’s judgment and wrath than for us to love and serve the least and most unlovable among us. My divorce from evangelical Christianity hasn’t helped my faith in God, though I’ve become equally tired of people who blame Christians or God for nearly every ill. We all need to be willing to examine ourselves, be honest with ourselves, be willing to change and then willing to act.
During my evangelical days, a singles group advisor, whenever we’d complain about a problem at church, repeatedly asked us the same question: “Are you going remain part of the problem or be part of the solution?” He’d then add the same commentary: “because if you’re not actively part of the solution, then, despite your intentions, you are part of the problem.” How I hated that last part. But over the years, I came to believe he was right.
Let’s quit asking God why and look in our mirrors instead. Then let’s get together, talk, debate, then seriously work toward solutions, even though it’s inconvenient and hard to do. Those who are committed to the God Jane Ogg described, including myself, can act in His name and spirit. But we all must come together as much as humanly possible and act.
Published in The WCP 12.27.12