The United States of America is a country disputing with itself. The American people are divided about many important beliefs. However, there exist a few issues that are not given their due attention by the government or the people. I am compelled to consider them.
Christianity teaches that God made all mankind from one source (Acts 17). And He granted to each people the lands of their habitation. Therefore, every human, regardless of their individual condition, shares in the common dignity of mankind. They matter. And every government has a duty to govern its people justly and to consider the impact of policy on their most vulnerable citizens. It is part of the plan of redemption. I believe this doctrine should inform how we think about our responsibility to our fellow Americans and how we treat foreign governments and peoples.
While we profess many enlightened ideas, lately we have failed to consider the moral cause of the poor, the wanton risks of war and the failure our public safety policy. But I believe that for Christian Americans, the common dignity of mankind should be a compelling argument to re-examine the tired, old left versus right orthodoxies in welfare policy, foreign policy and criminal justice.
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The poor on welfare are not all "lazy," nor are "the rich" taking advantage of all of them. Real life is often a series of unfortunate events. It has always been this way. In our arrogance, we often judge these realities harshly. However, to dwell on our failings is to forget the purpose of this discussion: Real people need real help. Welfare must be rethought – if for no other reason than the current system is insolvent. Inflation is the wrong answer because it robs the poor, reducing the value of their meager savings. That is morally repugnant. Nor can we simply eliminate all welfare programs; they are now part of the economy and cannot be dropped overnight for the bottom line. This is a real problem, and it requires a real solution.
Americans can no longer see themselves solely as a force for good in the world. That view is immature triumphalism. The United States is responsible for a lot suffering in world due the military adventurism of current president and his predecessor. They were both comfortably re-elected by the American people. Yet the damage done to the reputation of the United States by our repeated interventions, drone strikes and the consequences of toppling foreign governments will take many years to repair.
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Do young Americans voters who supported Barack Obama, or the Evangelicals who supported George Bush consider the anger and resentment felt by the families of the innocent civilians killed by American drone strikes and invasions targeting countries that did not attack the United States on Sept. 11, 2001? Consider that a person might understand that innocents die in war, and they might grieve their lost loved ones without blaming Americans if their government was responsible for attacking Americans in the first place. But the governments of Yemen, Libya, Iraq and Pakistan did not attack the United States. Have we held our government to the right standard in its treatment of those countries and their peoples? Left and right do not matter. The era of perpetual war must end.
We imprison our citizens for many crimes, but we do not reform them. With the war on drugs, we do not really distinguish between harming oneself and harming another. We do not provide prisons where the convicts can safely be reformed. Our criminal punishment system is corrupt. Prisons are recruiting offices for gangs, and terrorists. Prisoners are surrounded by vice, drugs, and are under the threat of assault by other inmates. This is public knowledge, and this dehumanizing system must be reformed. All the American people get for their money is the reintroduction into society of persons who have be traumatized or educated on how to be better criminals. Often they are released back into or communities, where they prey on the most vulnerable Americans. It is wrong. And there is a responsibility to address it.
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These issues will continue until the American people are tired of being badly led and renew their responsibility to ensure that the government is accountable.