Recently I heard someone suggest we should re-elect one of our current state legislators because he is a “good man.”
Recently I heard someone suggest we should re-elect one of our current state legislators because he is a “good man.” And it made me think of the old India story about describing the elephant. Some of us see different aspects or use different criteria to evaluate “goodness.”
While I don’t expect any of our state legislators to live up to this standard, one of my key questions is still the old, somewhat trite “What would Jesus Do?” As Christians, we know we essentially have 33 years of teaching and example, in addition to a few childhood events, to learn what we are called to do. There are very clear mandates or directives: care for the children; reach out first to the poor, the widow, the ill or disabled, the outcasts, and the stranger; the wealthy, powerful, and judgmental rule makers are typically not a good example to follow, and will probably have a hard time measuring up; show love, forgiveness, mercy – whenever and wherever; put your faith in God who will sustain and hold you – do not be afraid to take risks and do what is just, with humility; give unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and to God that which is God’s.
That is not a comprehensive list, but it gives us enough to start. If we look at our state legislators of the past four years, what do we see? One of the first things was a draconian cut in taxes paid by 344,000 of the wealthiest business owners. I know some of them – they seem a bit embarrassed to even admit that they are paying no income tax, while their employees, neighbors, the elderly and the poor, are being taxed higher than ever with the biggest increase in state sales taxes – even on food. I have also heard many of them say that not only is it unfair and unjust that they pay no taxes, but that they, too, are negatively impacted by the huge (I can’t even write that with a straight face} cuts in education, mental health, health care, infrastructure maintenance, etc. If we aren’t all paying our share, and participating in the community expenses, we all suffer some of the consequences – that’s not what Jesus said, but it’s true, nevertheless.
So much for paying to Caesar – I at least hope all of these “good men” are tithing to God.
Now about the children - there have been drastic education cuts when we all know that good schools, and a wide range of nutrition, health, preschool, pre- and post-natal care and parent education – these are the things that give our kids a chance for a good future – all have been jeopardized. And then the poor – you know, if you read my column, that the maximum welfare payment to individuals without children is $6,000/year. Really – can you imagine paying rent, transportation, housing, food, healthcare, etc. on that amount? And, anyone making more than that is not eligible for Medicaid or any assistance in paying for healthcare because our legislators don’t want to expand Medicaid – even though the federal government will pay for it, and it will bring millions of income into the health care systems in our state.
I think you get the idea why I really don’t think our current legislators measure up – they seem more like the Pharisees, Sadducees, and other judgmental rulemakers.