Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Fish Fish Bang Bang

Courtesy of Maud Newton Blog and Capitolbuzz.com: Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is writing a book called It Takes a Family, in which he proclaims single mothers shouldn't go to college, Wal-Mart is a good corporate citizen, and children who graduate from public schools are lucky they're not weirder.

I've started to type all sorts of things like "Commenting on this is like shooting fish in a barrel," and then erased them, because (1) that's a cliche and (2) it smacks of liberal glibness and smugness, and there's enough glibness and smugness on both sides of the political divide without my adding more. So instead I'm trying to tease out what exactly it is I find so disgusting about Santorum and his Republican colleagues, and I think it's chiefly the lack of empathy for anything beyond their privileged (and for the vast majority, white male heterosexual) viewpoint. Racism happens. Sexism happens. Financial and medical bad luck happen (and are often linked). Not everyone is born rich and connected. People from the same gender fall in love as deep and true as that between people from opposite genders, and often experience hate and hurt because of that affection. All of this pain is real, and deserves compassion -- and from the government, as much consideration and protection as it can grant without stepping on other people's rights. Republicans often somehow seem to forget anything beyond their bubbles exist, or act in deep denial of that fact. (George W. Bush quite possibly has never known.)

And then when they claim this is Christian behavior (like the man I met in Pennsylvania last year while I was canvassing for John Kerry, who insisted he was against welfare because he was a Christian and "when you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day" yadda yadda) . . . Well, this was the reading at church yesterday -- Isaiah 58, verses 6-10:

Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?

Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?

Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of God shall be your rear guard.

Then you shall call, and God will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.
If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
if you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.

I love the promise in the last verse here: If you act for justice, speak not evil, share your food with the needy and your mercy with the afflicted, your light (which I read partly as personal happiness) shall rise, your gloom dissipate. And if we could all do that . . . Creating a better world takes more than just one family, Rick. It takes empathy. It takes humility. It does, in fact, take an entire village of people working together for the good of all, and thinking about more than their own egos and power and the next political race. It is perhaps impossible to ask that of a modern politician -- but I would be delighted for a Republican to prove me wrong.

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