Will Gluttons Feed the Starving?
This is the indelicate way I’ve come to think about the current budget crisis on display almost everywhere we look, with the obvious need to cut expenses and otherwise stop spending money we do not have. Clearly, it is not wise to spend what one does not have. In most cases it is, in fact, criminal. But people in power often imagine themselves exceptions to the rule (this strikes me as a decent definition of injustice, come to think of it, but that’s another blog).
So almost everyone agrees we’ve got to stop spending or somehow acquire more to spend. The latter turns most stomachs. Thus, the former offers the more palatable and doable option. We must decide not to spend a lot of money we and our systems are currently spending.
So what should we stop spending? That’s the question. Before addressing this more directly I will digress, but hopefully in a way germane.
I am certain that if someone in my neighborhood were starving, I would help. I would do whatever I could to avert disaster for my neighbors. No need to debate the issues or evaluate the starving—just the urgent need to care for people motivates. I would make good on the call to love my neighbor. For sure, this glutton (with way more than enough food to eat) would help the starving.
If I knew that a sex-slave-ring were operating in my town I would do whatever to expose the scourge and marshal resources to shut it down. No need to think long about it, just the urgent need compels me to rescue such slaves. For sure, this glutton (with way more opportunities to feed my basic human needs) would help those so sorely deprived.
If I knew that some children on my street had no opportunity to get an education, that they’d never learn to read, wouldn’t come close to graduating from High School, and therefore couldn’t even dream of college, I would want to help and would place their need at the top of community must-address items. For sure, this glutton (having enjoyed more opportunities to learn than I can count, many of them apart from anything I myself did) would be eager to create and share opportunity.
If my local municipality were financially strapped (which it is) I would surely abhor any attempt to fix our budget on the backs of the starving, enslaved, and educationally underserved. In fact, the very possibility of doing so would strike me as obscene. For sure, this glutton (whose surplus feels so good that he imagines everyone else feels it too) would want to supply those profoundly lacking.
In all these ways, I am sure this glutton would be desperate to feed the “starving.”
So, on a national and global scale now, where or what should we stop spending, we who are relatively “gluttonous” so that the “starving” might have at least some crumbs from our table—or better yet, a seat at our table? I have no expertise from which to answer this question. But I have some questions that may point the way forward.
Where does the bulk of our spending go? Isn’t it on defending ourselves? If so, then wouldn’t it make sense to swing the budget axe proportionately there more of the time? But, if we did this, wouldn’t we compromise our security and safety? Well, would we? Really and truly? If, to protect ourselves, we spend more for defense than the next 20 big-spending countries in the world combined, is it all necessary? Aren’t we really being like gluttons, eager to protect our stuffed pantries when many, both near and far, have never had enough to make a pantry necessary? Couldn’t we examine—ruthlessly examine—the systems that protect and defend us for ineffectiveness and waste? Couldn’t we require the advocates and keepers of those systems to be creative and find ways either to live and protect with less cost or in different ways to get the job done without truly compromising anything? And if they can’t, might there be some others who would perhaps rise to such a challenge? I mean, why not require all parties who receive from our gluttonous bounty to be creative and innovative and come up with new ways to stop bad guys and protect good guys? Why should we only require this of the starving or those who want to help them?
If it’s true that Corporate America (which is now more often Corporate Multi-national) gets seconds and thirds from the gluttonous smorgasbord before the starving have firsts, is this right? And, if we argue that when the gluttonous are full and satisfied, the starving will be able to clean up after them—crumbs will inevitably fall tumbling and trickling down—well, does it really? At some point shouldn’t we require the before and after pictures of the former starving to prove it? And, if we can’t prove it, shouldn’t we stop making the argument?
The question remains, will the gluttons feed the starving? Will we ask or demand that our leaders adjust budgets and downsize according to where the bulk or fat is? Shouldn’t we demand that government enter a “Biggest Loser” contest, pull out all the stops, and WIN—for the sake of the starving?
And how should followers of the “Bread of Life,” who loves the starving and calls us to live by his love, answer such questions?