Archive for December, 2007

A Budget is a Moral Document

Monday, December 31st, 2007
  • Bridges are collapsing, and toll roads are replacing public roads.
  • American public schools are underfunded while the U.S. funds weapons deals.
  • The planet is melting while energy companies thrive.
  • Children are going without healthcare while insurance company profits are higher than ever.
  • The number of working poor increases by the day, while billionaires get tax cuts.
  • Whole countries are in ruins while lavish resorts flourish.
  • Hundreds of thousands have been killed in battles, while religiously funded genocide rages unfettered.
  • Corporations reap huge profits from violence, while young soldiers leave their families to die.

I have long held that a budget is a moral document, but never has there been more evidence that a budget (yours, mine or America’s) can also be an immoral document! Finances are certainly not the only indicator of the nature of a society. Still, how we spend our money does suggest our ethical values…and right now, in the U.S. and other places, it seems our most important core value is “more for me.”

Look in your own checkbook. Think of your church’s or synagogue’s budget. Then your city’s, your state’s. Are we taking care of each other or just ourselves? Do we stop when we have enough and share the rest? What does it say about our priorities? What in the world would God think?

Now consider your city’s budget or your state’s or our budget in Washington! If the constitution reflects our core values — our hopes and dreams for this amazing country of ours, then our government budgets are our actuation of those hopes. No less a moral document than our great Bill of Rights!

So how are we doing — or put another way, how moral are we? How do the things that every citizen should count on (education, healthcare, a living wage, Social Security, roads and bridges, air, water, safety) stack up against the monuments to our greed (tax loopholes, corporate lobbies, special interests,  pet projects, military aggression for oil, etc.)?

Isn’t it time we were honest with ourselves? Our personal budgets, corporate budgets and government budgets don’t lie. We have let ourselves believe gluttony is OK. We have told each other that we deserve what we have–that the pursuit of “success” excuses who we have to hurt to get it.

For those of us who try to practice InSpiritry, this is a disturbing time. We know the Greater Good can only be served when our finances follow our intentions, but then we wait for someone else to do something about it.

Let’s find the courage to take actions that serve not one…not some…but all!

With this in mind, I wrote a poem a few months ago for a dear friend–a Peace Corps volunteer, a husband and father, a church member, a federal judge, a great guy. He has never forgotten that we serve each other! Here’s an excerpt from the poem:

Ethics

In this time of plenty

there is no greater danger

than our comfort.

The most menacing poison hides

in the very cups at the banquet

of our acquired wealth.

:

:

This day as our blessing,

let us look round the table

of those present in our lives

and swear to God and each other

that we will honor justice

by celebrating the saints

whose lives are spent sharing

with others the holy bounty

of their simple, earthly portion.

InSpiritry Calls Us to Courageous Action!
You can be a blessing!

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Blessed are the Peacemakers

Friday, December 21st, 2007

Sleep in Heavenly Peace…

During this last week of the Christian Advent season and near the end of another violent year in the world, true Peace deserves our consideration more than ever. That said, for spiritual people of all traditions at any time of the year, there is no greater hope and no more essential calling than Peace. It is our most pure path to God.

But what is Peace? (more…)

Top Ten Perfect Gifts

Monday, December 17th, 2007

ONLY 7 MORE SHOPPING DAYS LEFT TO CHRISTMAS! 

As if Americans needed any more encouragement to  spend money we don’t have, television commercials and retail signs are reminding us that the annual holiday shopping deadline is quickly approaching. Stores are full of people desperately searching for “the perfect gift” for Christmas or Hanukkah. Some are shopping for family members, others for dear friends, others for bosses or coworkers and still others for those hard-to-buy-for folks saved until the last minute.

In the interest of preventing desperate choices like votive candle holders and purple sweaters, I thought I might offer an InSpiritry list of gift ideas for those who want to give something really special, things that affirm the recipient in ways a store bought item sometimes fails to do–gifts of inspiration! (more…)

Bookwoman and Others Like Her

Friday, December 7th, 2007

store logo

“I suddenly wanted something to read about women,

but I couldn’t find anything.”

Poet Judy Grahn

Sanctuary 

In Austin, Texas, on the corner of 12th and Lamar, there is a small shop that, for years, has been one of the sanctuary places in my life. Its bright storefront display promotes a wide variety of items:  feminist biographies, environmental photojournalism, insightful children’s books, progressive political commentary and gifts promoting peace. Entering customers, especially women, are welcomed home. Behind the counter sits owner, Susan Post, an unassuming woman with eyes as soft as her voice. When asked, she will speak of her unwavering dedication to feminism and her heart for writers. The shop I speak of is Book-woman, one of only a handful of independent feminist bookstores in the country and the only one in Texas.  A store devoted to improving women’s lives–what better way to live out a Passion for the Greater Good? (more…)

25 Days to Make a Difference

Sunday, December 2nd, 2007

“…a little child shall lead them”

Meet Laura.

Laura is a ten year old American girl who is ready to lead. With a belief in every person’s power to make the world a better place, Laura has launched a December, 2007 project called Twenty Five Days to Make a Difference. For those whose faith experience includes a season of Advent as well as those who just love Christmas, Laura is giving us a new approach to the holidays. How? (more…)