Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Senator Edwards and Our "National Community"

Yesterday morning former North Carolina Senator John Edwards spoke to a crowd of over 1,000 at our Annual Urban Ministries Prayer Event.

The audience appeared almost spellbound by his words, even those who didn't agree with all that he said. The room was focused, attentive and responsive.

We tried our best to keep the event non-partisan or at least bi-partisan. Our very effective, Republican County Judge Margaret Keliher offered the invocation and thanks for our meal.

And, Mr. Edwards warned us each time he brushed up to the line of partisan politics, always bringing a laugh to the crowd.

But, I think it is fair to say, his speech wasn't about partisan solutions or politics.

Senator Edwards spoke powerfully about what he believes are "American values."

For him the problem of poverty presents our nation with a "moral crisis."

Referring to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and to the plight of persons of color in the United States, he said the situation shamed our nation around the world.

He boldly declared that the stereotypes peddled about the poor are simply not true. He said at one point the notion that low-income persons are lazy is simply a lie.

I couldn't agree more.

His presentation was inspiring. The content was straightforward and moving.

He talked about the same things we talk about all the time at Central Dallas Ministries:

Community--he spoke strongly about the recovery of a "national community"


Work and the rights of laboring people

Education and higher education for all who desire it

Access to health care

Workforce housing

Leadership over politics



Quality of society

I was fortunate to have two occasions, during what turned out to be a rather long day, to visit one-on-one with the Senator.

He is impressive.

But it's not just because he is charming and charismatic.

He is real. He is down to earth. He listens. He believes deeply what he is saying. He comes from his heart and he obviously has the intellect to make the connections between head and heart that will make our nation stronger.

His leadership at the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity (for which he works tirelessly) at the University of North Carolina is no front for his future political aspirations. It is what he calls "the work of his lifetime." The fact that he is only major political figure talking about these rather unpopular issues in this way confirms the authenticity of his personal mission. And I can tell you he will not stop his conversation.

At one point in his speech yesterday I realized just how real the guy is. He talked about how segregated the United States remains today. We live separated from one another for the most part--divided by class, race and ethnicity. He has some ideas about how to overcome this situation.

But what got me was this line:

"This is not good for any of us. This is not good for America."

He is correct.

Over the past 12 years living and working in inner city Dallas, I've learned he is right .

Thanks, Senator Edwards! You blessed our day and our city!_________________________________

To read a story in today's Dallas Morning News, click here.


Anonymous said...

As a Republican, I hate to say this, but I actually enjoyed the speech. Not planning on voting for the guy anytime soon, but he made some great points. Really made us all think.

Thanks for including Judge Kelliher, too. She's a real asset to Dallas.

Larry James said...

Anonymous, your post means a lot to me!

What has happened to us as a nation? It seems that we cannot talk to each other without acrimony and hatred. I love your spirit and I respect the fact that you won't be voting for Mr. Edwards. The important thing is that you were open to coming to the event and you were willing to hear him out.

We can talk and we can make progress because of the respect. This is how it should be.

Thanks again for coming!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Edwards suggested increased tax credits for the poor as a way to help fight poverty. I don't see how this would help much when the top 50% of wage earners pay 96.54% of the taxes, the top 1% pay more than 1/3 of taxes.

Anonymous said...

If we have problems now, think what will happen if our Southern border is not secured.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 3, where are you getting those stats? Does that just include income tax -- because if that's the case, then you neglect to include regressive taxes like sales tax. That is where the poor pay the most -- and a far higher percentage of their income than the rich.

Anonymous said...

I got it from at the bottom of the page. I'm sure not many of you will like it!

Larry James said...

Anonymous two (BTW--it would help if everyone would just post their name), you didn't understand Mr. Edward or the Earned Income Tax Credit program. Working people who earn up to a certain amount, even though they don't owe or pay income taxes becasue their earnings are so low, can apply for and receive a tax refund. The entire concept rewards work among the low skilled, low-income workers. It is not a traditional tax credit, but a reward for working hard and earning little. Who could be against this???

Especially in a day when it has been almost a decade since we raised the minimum wage?

jch said...

Larry, may I suggest you go into your options and only allow people registered with to leave comments? I believe anonymous comments do nothing to further a conversation as those who are hidden can't be held accountable for what they say. I've had some humdingers over at my blog but it stopped immediately once I turned the option of anonymous commenting off. Just a suggestion.

Jeremy Gregg said...

Only problem with that is that Larry's blog gets several hundred hits per day, and very few of those would actually be registered bloggers.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, as above, that reference was JUST to income taxes. Not sales tax, which is where the poor pay so much.


Larry James said...

Thanks, Joe and Jeremy. I guess what I have in mind is that people can log on as Anonymous, but then sign their names at the end of their posts.

Anonymous said...

Larry: For those of us who were out of town and unable to be at the breakfast, is there any way to get a transcript of Senator Edwards' speech? David D.

Larry James said...

David, thanks for asking, but unfortunately, we did not record the speech.

Darius said...

I think the key to recognizing what's in all our interest may be far sightedness. If you're looking long term, then the kinds of policies being implemented by the Bush administration are great for them and theirs.

If they were able to focus attention and caring on the unborn - not as embryos or stem cells, but the coming reality of their own grandchildren and great grandchildren - then their platform would look like Edwards'.