When Faith and Politics Collide

Random Lengths News | December 20, 2006
I have difficulty at this time of year understanding how some in this country live with the inherent contradictions of being Christians while maintaining a belief that they are also patriotic Americans. On the one hand, they will sing “peace on earth” while accepting the headline announcing that 14 more have died in Iraq in the last 24 hours or that the Bush in the White House hasn’t quite figured out what to do with the advice of the Baker report on withdrawing from Iraq.

“Jesus Christ” you may scream, “doesn’t this guy get that he is being thrown a lifeline to save face?” GW’s own religious hypocrisy aside what makes me wonder is how the President justifies this continued lunacy of pursuing a failed and failing war policy while some 71 percent of the American people now belief that the war in Iraq is un-winnable! What’s a Christian to do?

The war is just one aspect of the daily contradiction. One such contradiction is the fact that during my daily trip to the Post Office during the holiday season I pass a Christmas tree lot operated by the local sober living program, then walk pass Billy, a poor homeless drunk, through the post office doors, then return to my office by way of the upscale condo/loft project in the downtown area. San Pedro is changing quickly but much of it will not because there is little or no will to accept the challenge to confront the contradictions of our own community. If long ignored, they will come back to haunt us like one of those holiday fruitcakes that never gets eaten, it just keeps getting passed around.

The Los Angeles Catholic Archdiocese is poised to dole out $60 million on settling its priest abuse scandals, but wouldn’t it be great if they spent that kind of charity on solving the problems of the truly needy? We shouldn’t depend solely on houses of worship to solve our social problems, but they should help. Yet, even our Los Angeles City Council––which has gotten into the habit of settling lawsuits by offering up multi-million dollar settlements to avoid litigation––has yet to grapple with the 89,000 homeless problem with anything other than criminalizing sleeping on the sidewalks.

I have been told that the procedure for doing police sweeps through areas where the homeless reside, usually on a Thursday or Friday, costs something in the neighborhood of $2,000 per person to arrest, jail and arraign. This four-day all expenses paid vacation by our blue constabulary is a desperate measure by the authorities to solve not a criminal issue, but a moral and economic one. What I want to know is how much has it cost us to arrest the several thousands of people who live on the street in the last year? Wouldn’t it be far more efficacious to spend that kind of money on getting them off the streets in the first place so that they didn’t need to be arrested? Even my most conservative fans would agree that it would be a far better use of blue-man-power to use the police to address real crimes.

Locally in the Harbor Area there are an estimated 2,800 homeless on any given night. Many of these lost in the junkyards and Ghost Town areas of east Wilmington where there is the greatest potential for industrial expansion by the ports, potential for creating thousands of good paying jobs.

Oh yes, there are a ton of excuses why we can’t solve this nagging contradiction with the homeless population. They are: shelter resistant; no job skills; many are crazy; some are drug addicted or alcoholic; others are just lost in the bushes off the Harbor Freeway, but in the end they are just excuses, not reasons for our lack of political will to deal with the least of our population as humanely as possible. I have one overarching belief above that of Christmas or patriotism, and that is that there is no human problem or condition that is created by man, which can not be solved by human endeavors to rise above personal greed and to attain enlightened self-interest. And dealing with the homeless is in our collective self- interest.

Our compassion for our fellow mankind should not be judged by either God or our community by what we do on one single day by tradition of religious belief or seasonal charity but by what we do when not reminded to do so on any one of 364 other days during the year.

Random Lengths News

Founded in 1979 as a counterbalance to the conservative, corporate- owned daily paper, Random Lengths News draws on the rich history of the Los Angeles Harbor Area. The name harkens back to a description of the lumber that used to...
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