Large concentrations of low-income or "poor people" populate the inner cities of the United States. It is not that there are no poor folks in rural areas, it is just that there are so many in our urban settings.
This concentration of members of the so called underclass in large population centers creates a dynamic that does not serve the interests of the poor or of the larger community. For one thing, the problems can appear so daunting, so unrelenting that even concerned people are paralyzed. The "no one knows what to do" syndrome is at work in most American cities around the issues associated with poverty and its myriad causes.
Then there are the not so nice people who take advantage of the concentrations of poverty on the one hand and the "what can be done?" resignation on the other to structure things to benefit themselves at the expense of the very people who desperately need a hand up.
This principle can be seen at work in public policy development every time our legislature meets. The 140-day session that just ended down in Austin produced more than ample evidence to substantiate my thesis. Lots of budget balancing occurred at the expense of the poorest Texans. Nothing new here! No surprises.
All of that to say, this repetitive theme in Texas and in national politics, built on the seemingly intractable problems of poverty and the vast numbers of Americans trapped in a low-income whirlpool of sorts, stands over against the faith and religious value system of the Judeo-Christian heritage.
We need to be reminded that morality is not just about sex and human reproduction. Morality is about life, justice, fairness and opportunity.
Back to Proverbs one more time.
"Do not rob the poor because they are poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate; for the Lord pleads their cause and despoils of life those who despoil them" (Proverbs 22:22-23)
Message? Don't take advantage of those who are weak who have no real recourse against your power.
And remember whose side the Creator happens to be on. God is not like CNN--God is not neutral!
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