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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bailouts and the Rule of Benedict...

The other day, I was ranting to some trusted friends about how angry I was when I came across a Facebook ad that promoted getting 'bailout' money that was not being claimed. When I clicked on the ad it went to a blog where someone was telling about how they got $12,000.00 in unclaimed government grant money and then they paid off $10,000.00 in credit debt and took a family vacation. Then they went on to tell people how to get their own chunk of money, for themselves.

I was furious.

When I told my friends, one of them replied, "Welcome to the Republican party."

Their comment caused me to think...

My problem is not about Republican or Democratic approaches to policy; but about the responsibility of we citizens have in the state of our nation. If the Republican or the Democratic party makes money available to help others; it is not my right as a citizen to take that money to save myself while others who are in more dire straights than I am sink. That is the opposite behavior that is needed to help this nation to rise up honorably from our mistakes.

I felt that the person in the blog was promoting the same irresponsible choices that have helped this nation towards the mess we are in; and then turning and taking more from their national brothers and sisters to help themselves. They put themselves first and the rest of us, last.

Today, I read in "The Rule of Benedict: Insights for the Ages" by Joan Chittister O.S.B., words that underscored these thoughts for me (italics mine):

"...if the preservation of the globe in the twenty-first century requires anything of the past at all, it may well be the commitment of the Rule of Benedict to humility.

The Roman empire in which Benedict of Nursia wrote his alternative rule of life was civilization in a decline not unlike our own. The economy was deteriorating, the helpless were being destroyed by the warlike, the rich lived on the backs of the poor, the powerful few made decisions that profited them but plunged the powerless many into continual chaos, the empire expended more and more of its resouces on militarism designed to maintain a system that, strained from within and threatened from without, was already long dead.

It is an environment like that into which Benedict of Nursia flung a rule for privileged Roman citizens calling for humility, a proper sense of self in a universe of wonders. When we make ourselves God, no one in the world is safe in our presence. Humility, in other words, is the basis for right relationships in life."

I am struck, quite forcibly, by the state America is in today and what Rome was like in Benedict's time. And, quite oddly, I take comfort in the fact that Rome is still there -- but it is not exactly as it was. I hope that we, as a nation, may begin to learn and explore the concept of humility that, to borrow Joan's words, "directs us to begin (...) by knowing our place in the universe, our connectedness, our dependence on God for the little greatness we have."

May we 'begin (together) again.'


At 9:13 PM, Blogger Heather said...

Amen! I completely agree. Well spoken, well written.

I think your blog should be more widely circulated. You provide excellent food for thought.



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