It's Not All About You and Me
September 19, 2010
Excerpt from Amos 8:4-7
Listen to this, you who walk all over the weak, you who treat poor people as less than nothing, Who say, "When's my next paycheck coming so I can go out and live it up? How long till the weekend when I can go out and have a good time?" Who give little and take much, and never do an honest day's work. You exploit the poor, using them—and then, when they're used up, you discard them. God swears against the arrogance of Jacob: "I'm keeping track of their every last sin." (The Message)
Reflection by Ron Buford
If you are like me, I like an encouraging devotional to start my day.
This is not one of them.
Amos was prophet in a time like ours...In our own time, some people did well financially, others became worse off. The gap between rich and poor widened. Religious leaders said nothing for fear of impacting collections. The poor were continually in debt, borrowing at high interest rates just to keep cars and homes from repossession. CEO's and managers, seeing the first signs of economic recovery, continued exporting work to foreign call centers, factories and fields where people made less than a living wage, in order to boost profits, bonuses, and returns for stockholders rather than bring back even just a few more workers. Retirees in religious groups didn't want to know where their pension profits were made either; “just keep my returns high," they said. People voted for politicians who talked tough on undocumented workers, conveniently forgetting the undocumented workers caring for their children, homes, and gardens, forgetting their once foreign language-speaking great-grandparents who made it possible for them to get a college education after landing a union job and a tax-funded loan for housing. Taxes were cut to squeeze out a few more dollars for vacation and millions more for the top 2 percent despite crumbling infrastructure, education and healthcare systems for the poor - all built with their great grandparents' taxes and charity from those who had less money but a greater sense of community. People drove wasteful cars rather than encounter the poor on public transportation. Checking their locks, they drove through poor neighborhoods, laughing all the way to work, listening to NPR, congratulating themselves on their progressive politics, celebrating gay marriages while increasing numbers of both gay and straight couples could not afford to get married.
Shame on us! Our inattentiveness and tolerance of such inequities even among avid capitalists is sin. What's worse is that it's doubling back and hurting our economy, crippling our infrastructure, and destroying our environment. God is already judging us; the axe is laid to the root of the tree. Shall we turn around before it's too late?
Oh God, Have mercy on us. Open our eyes. Send leaders with courage, creativity, and a heart for all the people. Help us each make economic decisions that bring about justice in the marketplace and in our environment. Amen.
About the Author
Ron Buford is Director of Development for the Northern California Nevada Conference of the United Church of Christ.