Tuesday, December 31, 2013

There's Still Time to Give to CitySquare!

For far too many of us, poverty is an abstract concept. We know it exists, we know caricatures of poverty - the neighborhood kook, the guy on the corner who will certainly ask anyone for money so he can go to the liquor store and get a pint; the sister on the corner who will do anything for $5. These people are poor, but there are other poor people as well...

The father who struggles to find a job so he can feed his family
The mother who has to make difficult choice between work and childcare
The child in the classroom who finds it hard to concentrate because he or she is hungry
The young lady who is ashamed because her mother can't afford another school uniform

CitySquare actually tries to touch the lives of all of these people! I want you to help us! At CitySquare, 92 cents of every dollar directly meets the needs of people we serve.

CitySquare organizes an array of services designed to meet the needs of the people categorized as 'poor':

A public interest law firm that provides legal representation for poor families
One of the largest food pantries in Dallas County
Housing for nearly 200 formerly homeless individuals
Job Training for more than 100 people a year
we fight the businesses that keep poor neighborhoods poor, like metal recyclers and payday lenders, and we keep people informed on the issues that impoverish all communities
and much, much more!

You can make an end of the year gift that will help us reach the goal of $1 million before 2014. No gift is too small. Every dollar and dime makes a difference.

Together we can  fight poverty throughout Dallas and beyond!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Mayor Mike Rawlings - His View on the Coming Year

I thought you might want to hear this interview with Mayor Mike Rawlings with Robert Wilonsky of the Dallas Morning News and Sports Radio 1310 AM/96.7 FM 'The Ticket'. It's an interesting view of how the Mayor thinks, what his priorities are and how he sees Dallas.

I think this Mayor's progressive but practical views on the role of education and the assets that we have to address the problems, are interesting and bold...if not popular. Personally, I like the Mayor because he is clear. You know the direction he wants the city to go and there is room for competing visions.

If your not particularly attune to public events, this might be helpful to hear...

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Poverty of the Prosperity Gospel

Let me first say, that I don't know John Piper's stance on every aspect of the Gospel. Indeed its quite possible that there are many aspects upon which we disagree. But I do believe his stance on the 'prosperity gospel' is logical and right.

It's tempting nowadays to seek an easy way out. Or to seek a pathway to the realization of all that God has for us that avoids pain or even poverty. There are some who even believe that if you believe in God 'hard enough' you won't have any hardships; if fact they believe that hardships are created by our lack of faith.

Piper's words speak directly to such people, as do the Words of Jesus: "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer ; I haveovercome the world" (John 16:33).

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Duck Dynasty & The Admission of Who 'We' Is

It's pretty much a given that the country is split down the middle as to what to do about Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson in light of his recent comments of race and sex. At least those of us who have paid at least a scintilla of attention fall off on one side of the ideological side of this debate or the other.

Now, before you get too far into reading this, you need to know that I don't watch 'Duck Dynasty'. In fact the only time I've paid attention to it was when I was watching it when visiting my step mother several months ago. On my list of favorite shows it doesn't rank...

But it is telling that the show's stars are themselves a minor industry. It is also telling that the characters are popping up all over the tube, so whether or not you're interested your senses and sensibilities have most likely been assaulted.

So of course, when Phil Robertson shoots off his mouth about gays and goes even further in by recalling a kindler, gentler era when blacks he worked with were happy - before food stamps and other types of entitlements, it makes noise and it makes news.

But here's a larger point that no one seems to mention: aren't these networks aware of these characters feelings about things before they let them on the air. I mean, let's face it, I don't expect Phil Robertson to change. But I am startled to find out that the A&E Network would banish Robertson from filming as if he just showed up on the scene and started spouting this irrelevant nonsense.

Who was sent out to talk to the Duck Dynasty clan? Who did investigation on them to make sure they were either politically correct, or refreshingly incorrect? And what is the difference between this crew and the Real Housewives of Atlanta, for instance, who say things equally upsetting on their show but are somewhat reticent when it comes to their personal lives?

And I guess that's why I'm not too worked up about the Duck Dynasty flap. Phil Robertson has an uninformed point of view. He is hardly going to recruit followers. Viewers will grow and bail depending upon how outrageous the Dynasty crew gets. The real question is will networks continually let these unvetted characters appear on camera and then feign shock when other networks and reporters dig into their pasts and find something unsavory.

When I think of Phil Robertson and the rest of the Dynasty crew, I can't help but remember my old deacon at the church I pastored. I stopped by his house for a visit and somewhere during the course of our time together the deacon declared with ungrammatical profundity, 'You know Rev., you can't be nothing but what you is!"

These backwoods, backwater fundamentalist believers can't be anything but what they 'is'. The real question is who is 'we' to put up with this...

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Praying You All Have A Joyous Christmas

For unto us a child is born , unto us a son is given : and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Isaiah 9:6, 7

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Scene From Dicken's 'A Christmas Carol'

 At  last the dinner was all done, the cloth was cleared, the hearth swept, and the fire made up. The compound in the jug being tasted, and considered perfect, apples and oranges were put upon the table, and a shovel-full of chestnuts on the fire. Then all the Cratchit family drew round the hearth, in what Bob Cratchit called a circle, meaning half a one; and at Bob Cratchit's elbow stood the family display of glass. Two tumblers, and a custard-cup without a handle.

These held the hot stuff from the jug, however, as well as golden goblets would have done; and Bob served it out with beaming looks, while the chestnuts on the fire sputtered and cracked noisily. Then Bob proposed:

"A Merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us."
Which all the family re-echoed.

"God bless us every one!" said Tiny Tim, the last of all.

He sat very close to his father's side upon his little stool. Bob held his withered little hand in his, as if he loved the child, and wished to keep him by his side, and dreaded that he might be taken from him.

"Spirit," said Scrooge, with an interest he had never felt before,"tell me if Tiny Tim will live."
"I see a vacant seat," replied the Ghost, "in the poor chimney-corner, and a crutch without an owner, carefully preserved. If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, the child will die."
"No, no," said Scrooge. "Oh, no, kind Spirit. Say he will be spared."

"If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, none other of my race," returned the Ghost, "will find him here. What then? If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population."

Scrooge hung his head to hear his own words quoted by the Spirit, and was overcome with penitence and grief.

"Man," said the Ghost, "if man you be in heart, not adamant, forbear that wicked cant until you have discovered What the surplus is, and Where it is. Will you decide what men shall live, what men shall die? It may be, that in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man's child. Oh God! To hear the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust."

Saturday, December 21, 2013

So At Least I Still Have My Health!

A funny thing happened to me on the way to my last column/blog post - I had a stroke!

Those of you who have followed me on other social media realize that this is not something I've been bashful about.In October, I experienced what, in retrospect, what may have been a TIA - a severe one. When I was released from the hospital, I  experienced what may be considered a residual episode of that event.

This recent episode was something different, however.

I was awakened from a late Saturday night sleep, thirsty and without feeling the need to go back to bed any time soon. I sat up in my office, channel surfing and looking at what I could catch good on TV. Thirty minutes into whatever I was looking at, I noticed I couldn't really 'feel' the right side of  my body! I tried to reach for the phone to call my wife, asleep in the other room, but I couldn't reach the phone which was on my desk! I finally ambled around my desk, sat exhausted at the phone and called her. She and my daughter tried to help me up and it was no use!

My daughter was the one who told us we needed to call an ambulance, and with that came other anxieties. In the ambulance, I became aware of other weaknesses, most obvious was a growing numbness on my right side. And a growing loss of speech.

Well, to make a long story short, doctors, after several tests determined that my original episode was indeed a stroke and this was some sort of abnormal continuation of that. I spent a week in rehab and was released afterwards, to outpatient care. Prognosis is that I'll be back to normal in little or no time.

Of course questions abound as to how this came about. Naturally the first culprit was smoking. I've smoke now for some 40 years now and adverse affects have been few, even when it comes to check ups. And even though I've been warned, warnings in the absent of empirical evidence of direct negative impact, really is little more than a sign to continue.Was it the spin of medicines that I was one? Probably. It appears that the regime  that they have me own currently, is working and while not fully ambulatory, I'm nearly back to normal. It seems to be a combination of at least these to things and I'm determined to find my way out.

At any rate, I wanted to thank you who knew and those who weren't quite sure for your concern! It's been heartwarming to say the least. Thanks to my children. I forget what hard nosed girls I've raised. The oldest daughter, Carrie, raised questions which, while not leading to positive test results, resulted in a test which eliminated another possibility. My other two daughters, Adrienne and Camary have been wonderful in their support.

I cannot say enough about my wife.Throughout all of this, I know she must be frightened, but she's been a soldier and it has caused me to find new reasons to love her.

Finally, thanks to Larry James and CitySquare, this has been a trying time during a growth period for us. And I know my absence hasn't helped much, but I appreciate Larry and the team understanding and being willing to help us in anyway possible. There encouragement has meant more than they realize!

I certainly want to include Keilah Jacques, whom I would not have been able to get through this period without. She has rearranged, adjusted and sifted through meeting requests and deadlines; she has filled in where she could and in general been useful in a most formidable way! Thanks Keilah.

So what does this mean for CTW? Oh you'll hear from me relatively soon and often. Early on it won't be everyday while I focus on recovery, but often enough to let you know I'm paying attention. And then there are other changes that I think will prompt a more activist model for Public Policy and social engagement. In other words, we're still on it!

In the meantime...thanks...a LOT!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

It's Time to Make the Affordable Care Act Work

As I've said, it's not pointing out the weaknesses of the Affordable Care Act that bother me, it's the constant drumbeat of tragic negativity that drives me to distraction. And that drumbeat is led by the GOP. There is a real opportunity to address structural deficiencies in President Obama's plan to reform health care delivery and insurance.

For instance, at it's best, tens of millions will be left without health insurance. In states that have opted out of setting up their own health exchanges and refused to expand Medicaid, is there a solution to cover these Americans? Or, what about those citizens who may actually have to pay more for insurance in a state or federal exchange? What about a tax break for them on the difference between what the exchange offers and what they would have to pay should the decide to keep their insurance? What the Republican dominated House of Representatives doesn't understand is that 'repeal and replace' is not an option and 'we will all die' is not policy.

Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker has it right when she says, "When Republicans say the health-care plan is doomed, a train wreck, a disaster, etc. — and offer no hopeful options — they appear to be rooting only for failure.

"This approach is a blessing for Democrats, who have responded by shining a light on success stories: the 25-year-old who gets to stay on his parents’ insurance plan another year, the child or elderly parent with a preexisting condition who now can get insurance, the family who never could afford insurance and now can, thanks to . . .well, all those people who are now mandated to buy insurance of a certain type or else.
"Comparing approaches, President Obama is wearing love beads and planting flowers in the gun barrels of the Republican guard.
"What Democrats know keenly — and Republicans seem never to learn — is that positive beats negative every time. Thus, we see MSNBC’s clever montage of Republican negativity: A series of unfriendly faces decrying the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with apocalyptic language. Which would any everyday American prefer? The healer or the doomsayer? The elves or the orcs?
"This is not precisely reality, but perception drives policy as much as reality does. The key for Republicans is to drop the negative attacks and refocus energies on the positives of their plans..."
Of, course that begs the question, "What plans...?"
Parker is left with remnants of plans that have been proposed and rejected. For instance, she cites remedies offered by for U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (who by the way, was one of the last sane voices to leave the senate) and Frank Macchiarola, former Republican staff director of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Their proposals include, "...improvements to our health care system should begin with a basic focus on three core principles: reducing the cost of health care, providing greater access to care and increasing the quality of the care provided.
"It is important to recognize that, for too long, too many health care consumers have been separated from the cost of care and thus have no incentive to make the wise choices they would otherwise make as informed consumers.
"Policies such as unlimited health savings accounts to address this problem would go a long way toward reducing healthcare spending by the consumer. Additionally, health care consumers value greater choice in shaping their own needs. Forcing people into exchanges that dictate the type of care they must receive restrains choice and increases costs."
Of course, all of these might be reasonable alternative proposals if all consumers of health care were savvy customers - or if the earned enough money to not have to make  a choice between say, an electric bill or rent, or a health savings account. Not to mention the fact that not only are the 'three core principles: reducing the cost of health care, providing greater access to care and increasing the quality of the care provided', at the heart of the ACA but people are not 'forced' into exchanges, they are given a range of options for coverage within those exchanges.
When the Affordable Care Act was introduced, it was criticized as being a too complex, system wide overhaul of a medical delivery system wrapped around the axle of our economy. It was, after all, 1000 pages long - who had time to read it (except lawmakers with staff whose job it was to do such things). And on occasion a Republican lawmaker would come up with an alternative: generally one sheet of paper, written on (front and back - I hope), that was the cure for 'Obamacare'. That plan was rejected. 
The Affordable Care Act was brought of for repeal of some sort, almost 50 times. The Supreme Court found it fundamentally Constitutional. It was litigated and voted upon in Congress and every lawmaker, had a chance to cast his or her vote for or against it. The President ran on it as a signature piece of legislation passed during his first term. Radical Republican Conservatives shut down the government over it's implementation. 
And yet it remains the law of the land. 
It's time to make this work. But that does take statesmen with standing who have the future of their country in mind, not just politicians determined to gin up their base for the next election. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Slowly but Surely the Affordable Care Act is Working

I, for one, refuse to believe that the news about the Affordable Care Act is all bad. In fact, the brouhaha over the website, while a serious blunder, doesn't represent an irreparable problem. In fact media tends to refuse to consistently make the distinction between how the State Exchanges are faring in states that have accepted medicaid expansion (like California and Kentucky), and states that have refused to set up their own exchanges opting for the Federal Exchange (like Texas and Louisiana). 
Yes, some people have been informed of the cancellation of their health insurance policies, but how many of them, like one woman in California simply failed to get a full understanding of what she would be offered in the exchange and ended up paying only a few dollars more through the exchange. That doesn't mean that some won't have to pay more. But the catastrophic pain forecast by critics of the law are clearly hyping the misery of some to their own political advantage. 
And a recent column by Paul Krugman suggests that the longer term goal of President Obama's far reaching signature law, bending the curve on health costs, is indeed doing just that. Find the full column here and below you can find the report he references in the column...
"The law establishing Obamacare was officially titled the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. And the “affordable” bit wasn’t just about subsidizing premiums. It was also supposed to be about “bending the curve” — slowing the seemingly inexorable rise in health costs.
"Much of the Beltway establishment scoffed at the promise of cost savings. The prevalent attitude in Washington is that reform isn’t real unless the little people suffer; serious savings are supposed to come from things likeraising the Medicare age (which the Congressional Budget Office recently concluded would, in fact, hardly save any money) and throwing millions of Americans off Medicaid. True, a 2011 letter signed by hundreds of health and labor economists pointed out that “the Affordable Care Act contains essentially every cost-containment provision policy analysts have considered effective in reducing the rate of medical spending.” But such expert views were largely ignored.
"So, how’s it going? The health exchanges are off to a famously rocky start, but many, though by no means all, of the cost-control measures have already kicked in. Has the curve been bent?
"The answer, amazingly, is yes. In fact, the slowdown in health costs has been dramatic.
"O.K., the obligatory caveats. First of all, we don’t know how long the good news will last. Health costs in the United States slowed dramatically in the 1990s (although not this dramatically), probably thanks to the rise of health maintenance organizations, but cost growth picked up again after 2000. Second, we don’t know for sure how much of the good news is because of the Affordable Care Act.
"Still, the facts are striking. Since 2010, when the act was passed, real health spending per capita — that is, total spending adjusted for overall inflation and population growth — has risen less than a third as rapidly as its long-term average. Real spending per Medicare recipient hasn’t risen at all; real spending per Medicaid beneficiary has actually fallen slightly..."

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Everyday is Labor Day when You Work for Minimum Wage

Of course it's past Labor Day. But Robert Reich's solutions to income inequality and an enhanced standard of living for low wage earners is just as pertinent now as it was a few months ago. 

As the holidays are upon us and we think about the economy, how much people will spend for Christmas. This is not just an appeal to greed, the nation's fiscal health is largely dependent upon Yuletide generosity. Yet where will that money come from without decent wages and a people confident enough to spend their earnings? We need people to consume goods and use services in order to restore our economy to health.
But a decent wage and a fairness for low income workers means a lot more and Reich does a great job of explaining that here.

Its a pretty good bet that the movie,  'Inequality for All' will show up in CitySquare's documentary offerings in 2014 and that living wage jobs will be on our public policy agenda...

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Fast Food Industry Could do the Right Thing and Benefit

On Thursday fast food workers in 100 cities are preparing to go on strike. They are looking for a hike in their wages of at least $12 an hour. Of course the industry remains defiant for all of the usual reasons, most of which could be summed up with the words, 'The sky will fall!'
But what if McDonald's, Burger King, Whataburger and whomever else, decided that they would give in to the workers demands? What if they decided that the right thing to do was to pay their workers more. What would the backlash be? What would the customers think. 
Perhaps, according to columnist Jena McGregor writing in the Washington Post, it would actually result in some benefits for the employees, of course, but also the companies themselves...
"Electing to pay workers more could lower the industry’s high turnover rates, driving down the cost of hiring and training new workers. It could bring in better or more experienced workers who are more satisfied in their jobs, leading to better customer service, greater productivity and, therefore, potentially higher profits. And if one of these companies put a stake in the ground and voluntarily boosted its wages at least somewhat, it could prompt competitors to follow suit, potentially letting the air out of the legislative effort to raise the mandated minimum wage even higher.
"Most of all, being the first company to choose to voluntarily to pay workers more would bring positive publicity that could lead to an increase in sales. Last week, the Swedish clothing retailer H&M announced that it intends to ensure its garment workers are paid a living wage. While it’s unclear exactly what that means, the news generated plenty of flattering news coverage, from an editorial in the New York Times to applause from the Telegraph. (A typical response in my Facebook feed: “I’m shopping at H&M this Christmas.”)
"Sure, boosting the pay of low-wage workers in Bangladesh or Cambodia may not be the same as boosting the wages of U.S. workers. But the underlying philosophy is the same: Committing to do the right thing before it’s forced upon you can be good business. It often leads to more satisfied workers, more loyal customers and, potentially, fewer regulatory demands. And it’s especially good business if your company is the one that leads the way and gets all the attention for doing so."th
Maybe doing the right thing could have benefits after all...like making corporations really appear human.
Read the rest of the column here...

Monday, December 2, 2013

A Listening Ear...Can We Get a Responsive Government?

Nia Timmons (back left) and Anisa Davis (center) meet with staffers for Congressman Robert Andrews (D-NJ). (Photo: Victoria Egan/Center for Hunger-Free Communities)

It's probably a pretty old trick. It's reprehensible nonetheless. 
CitySquare staff and neighbors went to Austin during this years legislative session to advocate for Medicaid expansion. The legislature, which is overwhelmingly Republican and conservative had prepared for the onslaught of advocates from across the state (at a rally outside the state capitol, estimates ran about 3000 people). 
After the rally, most of us went in to talk with legislators about the need for the expansion of the healthcare benefit so critical to the success of the affordable care act, but also which meant jobs, expanded healthcare for the critically and chronically ill children and adults - many of whom were there. 
We couldn't find any GOP legislators...
We found out later that anticipating having to deal with actually talking to citizens whose health and very lives would be impacted by not expanding Medicaid, they would all simply make themselves 'unavailable'. They left their staffs, who could only say that they would convey our concerns to the lawmakers, were inadequate substitutes. The fact is the legislators couldn't face citizens impacted by their policies. 
The parents in this story, were more successful at the federal level than we were. They were dealing with hunger and the sad state of affairs when poor people, reliant on public assistance try and do something as basic as feed their children. They found a listening ear at least...now they need a compassionate and responsive government...
Nia Timmons was stressed.
A mother of three, she works full-time as an assistant teacher at a pre-K program in Camden, New Jersey where she earns $12 per hour. By the second week of November, she still hadn’t received her family’s food stamp (SNAP) benefits and she didn’t know why. She thought it might be due to the SNAP cut on November 1 that hit 48 million people, including 22 million children, but she couldn’t get any answers from the Camden Board of Social Services.
“I’ve not heard from anyone there, and I can’t reach anyone either,” said Timmons.
She told me her story in a coffee shop in the basement of the Russell Senate Office Building last week. She had traveled to Capitol Hill along with four of her “Witnesses to Hunger sisters” from Camden, Philadelphia and Boston to speak with members of Congress about the impact their policy decisions are having on people who live in poverty. Witnesses to Hunger is a project of the Center for Hunger-Free Communities at the Drexel University School of Public Health. Participants are mothers and caregivers of young children who use photography and testimonials to document their experiences and advocate for change at the local, state and federal levels. There are more than eighty Witnesses in various cities on the East Coast.
Timmons and Anisa Davis — also from Camden — shared their experiences with staffers for their representatives, Democratic Senator Robert Menendez and Democratic Congressman Robert Andrews. The other Witnesses met with legislative aides for their respective senators and representatives too. They also sat down with staffers for Republicans on the farm bill conference committee, including House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas and Florida Congressman Steve Southerland. All of the Witnesses met directly with Democratic Congressmen Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania and Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, and with Kellie Adesina, legislative director for Ohio Representative Marcia Fudge.
I was invited to sit in on the meeting with Adesina.
Quanda Burrell, a mother of two from Boston, told her story of being just one semester shy of her teacher’s assistant degree when she was informed that her Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance would run out in two weeks. Her caseworker said she needed to drop out of school and enter a “career readiness program” in order to continue to receive assistance. The Witnesses say these programs often lead to no jobs or dead-end jobs, and are frequently run by for-profit companies.
Burrell felt she was forced to choose between feeding her family in the immediate term or staying in school so she could attain a stable income in the very near future. She dropped out. But the extension of TANF assistance turned out to be just for two months, and so her only current income is a small stipend she receives for work for Thrive in Five, which promotes early childhood education in Boston. She can’t afford to re-enroll in school and now her rent is due.
“It affects you mentally, emotionally, physically — it drains you,” said Burrell. “You have to hide it from your children. You gotta pretend like you’re not struggling with this, but you really are. You don’t want your kids to feel that stress. But it does trickle down.”
Read the rest of the story here....

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Pope Francis Denounces Economic Inequality

“…Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving?

“This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape. Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded.  We have created a “throw away” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.

“In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and na├»ve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us…”

Read the full message here...