Thursday, August 18, 2011

Picture This

by Lisa Sharon Harper 08-18-2011

Picture this: Hundreds of thousands of women, men, and children plod across barren cracked earth. Dead cows and human corpses litter the roads, revealing to us evidence of two things: 1) the hottest summer on record in Somalia, which caused the worst drought and famine in 60 years; and 2) twenty years of a truly failed Somali government swallowed up in cycles of violence.

Picture this: Posturing politicians claim to stand up for the rights of Americans, even as they hijack the proverbial steering wheel of America. They hold a proverbial gun to the heads of every American, and say outright that they’d have no problem driving us all off a proverbial cliff if millionaires and billionaires don’t remain protected from raised taxes, and if we don’t cut more programs that protect working and poor people.

Picture this: One Somali family walks across cracked earth and carcasses for two months in search of food. They outsmart bandits, thugs, and rapists. They sleep wherever they can find safe shelter. They arrive at a refugee camp in eastern Kenya only to find cholera and measles sweeping through the malnourished and immune-suppressed camp.

Picture this: The U.S. House of Representatives votes on a proposed budget for FY2012 that would cut emergency food aid by seventy-five percent compared to FY2008 levels.

Last week, I interviewed Ambassador Tony P. Hall just after he had returned from a trip to the Dadaab refugee camp in eastern Kenya. He told me about his encounter with a family that had walked for two months in order to find food. “I can’t get them out of my mind,” Ambassador Hall said.

Now picture this: A woman walks into her neighborhood church on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, one of the richest zip codes in the United States. She leans in close to the person working the front desk and whispers, “I have no food.”

In an article titled, “Five Myths about Hunger in America,” The Washington Post reported on the results of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s most recent study on hunger in America. The first myth was, “No one goes hungry in America.” As of November 2010, more than 14.7 million American families struggled to put food on the table. This is approximately 15 percent of all U.S. households.

Picture this: When President Obama proposes that Congress close tax loopholes for corporate jet owners, House politicians position themselves as the defenders of corporations, jets, and loopholes.


An LA Times analysis of the debt ceiling deal put this in plain language and stated: “High stakes negotiations force people to reveal what they really care about.” The analysis said flatly, Republicans revealed they care most about “preventing any tax increases to upper income families.” The Democrats, the article stated, revealed that they care most about “ensuring no cuts to Social Security, Medicaid and a handful of other programs that aid the elderly and the poor.”


Now picture this: Jesus said, “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because [the Lord] has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.” (Luke 4:18) Jesus followers in both parties, it’s time to follow our leader.


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