ARTICLES BY RUBY SALES< Back
Why We Must Act
President Bush and his right ministers like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson and their neo-conservative allies have a dream of a world of where white men dominate the entire planet. Galvanized by this dream, they use their power, gifts and resources to push forward their agenda of creating a military state. In doing so, they spend the bulk of our resources on massive weapons of biological, chemical and human destruction. They promote death driven policies rather than life affirming policies that advance humanity and protect the environment.
With Congressional approval, President Bush spends 7½ times more on the military than on education or health. He spends $343 billion on the military, $45 billon on education and $41 billion on health. This is from a President who promised during his campaign to improve education. However, the literacy rate keeps declining. Moreover, the President and his right wing allies are using charter schools to rapidly dismantle public education. He also promised to improve prescription and health options for Americans. Instead millions of Americans remain uninsured without decent access to health care and benefits. Uninsured people in America rose from 41.2 million in 2001 to 42.6 million in 2002.
At home and around the globe, we witness the desolation, violence and suffering brought about by U.S. domestic and foreign policies. Sara Diamond says that the United States desire to contain popular movements and people's voices around the world and at home drives U.S. domestic and foreign policies. Whether in Nicaragua, the Mississippi Delta, Palestine, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Angola, Zaire, or Argentina the United States uses its power, resources and military might to contain, destroy and dismantle progressive movements and communities of color.
We witness an example of U.S. containment policies of people of color with its warehousing of African American men in prisons and jails and the recent wholesale lock up of men of Middle Eastern descent. Since 1980, the number of prisons and jails has sky rocketed. So has the number of Black men in prisons and local jails. According to a report by the Justice Policy Institute, the number of Black men who were attending college or universities in 1980 outnumbered the number of Black men in prisons 3 to 1. In 1980, 143,000 Black men were in jails or in prisons while 463,000 were enrolled in colleges or universities. This report also points out that by 2000 more Black men were in prison or jails than in college. 791,600 black men in jails or prisons, and 603,032 were enrolled in colleges or universities.
What questions do we need to ask of a wealthy nation that has the resources to lift up its citizens when the number of Black men whom the state has imprisoned jumped by 687,000 in twenty two years? What are the connections between locking Black men out of higher education and jobs and locking them out of life or citizenship by locking them up in jails and prisons? Both are lockdowns that deny Black men access to a full life. What does it mean for African Americans and the larger society that vital members of society are missing? A community is weakened when vital members are missing. What does this mean for Christians when a principle part of Jesus' mission was to set the captives free?
What do we make of Jesus' call to feed the hungry when the 2000 census reveals that 10.5 percent of all U.S. households, representing 20 million adults and 13 million children, were "food insecure" because of lack of resources (34.5 million poor people in America )? Not only has U.S. policies created hunger and poverty in the United States, but people also suffer from hungry and staggering poverty around the world, mostly in communities of color. They live poorly because the U.S. robs them of their resources.
In the face of terrible suffering at home and abroad and in the face of the church's greed and callous silence, we must stand up for what is right.