I had a letter published yesterday in the Tulsa World I wanted to share with you. There are some “Tea Party” groups that are becoming quite active in our area and I think it is important for all of us to always engage this type of political movement. The lessons from the past where dangerous right wing movements were ignored are legion. I can’t think of a better birthday present than for the Tulsa World to have published this letter and take some air out of the local Tea Party movement:
Many of us gladly pay our taxes with the idea those taxes are used for Medicare, Social Security and programs for our fellow Americans who need our help. I am also co-director of the “Tables 2 Go!” program at one of the churches I’m a member of in Tulsa. We supply angel food baskets to people who have full-time jobs, but because of the outrageous cost of medical care in this country, are considered the working poor and struggle to put food on their tables. I didn’t realize how bad the problem was until I actually became involved in that program and the “Backpacks for Kids” program that feeds children whose parents, for whatever reason, do not feed them properly.
I am a Christian, as well, and I believe that Jesus Christ taught us to “Love our neighbor.” Believe me, I realize I require God’s grace on a daily basis, and I’m just as capable as members of the tea party crowd to impulsively say or do something I later regret. I do know that when I attended the health care reform rally in Washington there was a stark difference between the signs I saw from the tea party side and ours. For instance a tea party sign read, “If Senator Brown can’t do it maybe Browning can” and pictured a gun, and our side had signs that read “Love Thy Neighbor” and “People of Faith for Health Care Reform.” Congressmen were also spat on and called names from the tea party crowd, and now we are reading reports of bricks being thrown through the windows of the offices of some Democrats who voted for the health care bill. I think we can all agree that is unacceptable behavior.
I am not naive enough to realize there aren’t legitimate differences, and some common ground, between the tea party crowd and those of us who are more progressive and advocating on behalf of the poor. We must remember that even Jesus Christ said, “The poor will always be with you.” We have a choice in how we reach out and try to lighten the burden of our brothers and sisters. If we judge them for the reasons for why they have less, instead of simply helping them, then what good is that? I hope both sides become more civil, and I hope I become a better example of being the change I want to see in this world. I am a veteran, as well, and there are plenty of servicemen who are currently serving, who would hate to see our society devolve into what our service men and women experienced in some other countries.
Feel free to go there, read the rest of my letter and engage those who were offended by my words.