Saturday, February 11, 2006

Babies and Bono

A couple of thoughts. First off, congratulations to Chris and Amanda Dykhoff! And a big welcome to the world to Joshua Christopher Dykhoff! Hurrah!

Second of all, I want to thank all the folks who have been commenting on the post below. I think that's a new Philosofickle high in comments, and the conversation doesn't have to be over just because I'm putting up this post. I'm encouraging people to continue posting their thoughts on the subject.

And finally, I want to take this opportunity to call attention to some the remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast. The guest speaker was, of all people, Bono. You can find the full text here. He said some brilliant things, and really put the challenge to President Bush and the nation, particularly as involves the amount of aid we contribute to the poor of the world, specifically in Africa. Just a couple of awesome quotes I'd like to highlight:

"It's not about charity, it's about justice. And that's too bad. Because you're good at charity. Americans, like the Irish, are good at it. We like to give, and we give a lot, even those who can't afford it. But justice is a higher standard. Africa makes a fool of our idea of justice; it makes a farce of our idea of equality. It mocks our pieties, it doubts our concern, it questions our commitment."

"Preventing the poorest of the poor from selling their products while we sing the virtues of the free market... that's a justice issue. Holding children to ransom for the debts of their grandparents... That's a justice issue. Withholding life-saving medicines out of deference to the Office of Patents... that's a justice issue. And while the law is what we say it is, God is not silent on the subject."

"That's why I say there's the law of the land... and then there is a higher standard. There's the law of the land, and we can hire experts to write them so they benefit us, so the laws say it's OK to protect our agriculture but it's not OK for African farmers to do the same, to earn a living? As the laws of man are written, that's what they say. God will not accept that"

"[S]top asking God to bless what you're doing. Get involved in what God is doing... because it's already blessed. Well, God, as I said, is with the poor. That, I believe, is what God is doing. And that is what He's calling us to do."

(I have to wonder what those opposed to moral legislation would respond to Bono? I embrace his comments. After all, there aren't many non-moral reasons to support poverty relief - especially relief in foriegn nations).

And finally, Bono gives a specific policy recommendation. It's bold. And it's beautiful. And I say we embrace it:

"I was amazed when I first got to this country and I learned how much some churchgoers tithe. Up to ten percent of the family budget. Well, how does that compare the federal budget, the budget for the entire American family? How much of that goes to the poorest people in the world? Less than one percent.

Mr. President, Congress, people of faith, people of America:

I want to suggest to you today that you see the flow of effective foreign assistance as tithing. Which, to be truly meaningful, will mean an additional one percent of the federal budget tithed to the poor. "

I love it. I think we should certainly give at least that one percent. Bravo Bono.

And bravo to the Dykhoff's again!

Someone you could lend a hand
In return for grace

1 comment:

Jeff said...

As regards the moral legislation thing, Bono actually responded to that for me. He said, "that's a justice issue." To me - and to Bono, apparently - doing nothing about poverty is a grave injustice.

Certainly from a religious perspective, this is true. In Hebrew, there is pretty much no word for "charity." We use tzedakah, which translates as righteousness and is very closely related to tzedek, which means justice. Furthermore, when prophets such as Amos and Isaiah talk about justice, they're often talking about caring for the poor. So to me, the concepts of morality and social and economic justice are inextricably intertwined. I know many Christians and Jews who feel the same way. (Muslims, too - almsgiving is one of the five pillars of Islam, after all.) So certainly, those morals that are derived from religion would, logically, drive us towards seeking economic justice.

So yeah, I suppose that kind of moral legislation is perfectly acceptable to me. I suppose we can divide moral legislation into two camps - that which seeks to correct injustice, and that which seeks to regulate the morals of an individual. Laws in the first camp - poverty fighting laws, civil rights laws, etc. - I appreciate. It is laws in the second camp - laws that restrict rights rather than guarantee them - that I am troubled by.

That having been said, the imperative to justice is something that exists not only in religion but in basic American values. "Liberty and justice for all," "equal justice under the law," "establish justice," etc. These are still moral imperatives, but moral imperatives that come from within our own governmental structure and that don't have to be imported from religion or from philosophy or from wherever people get there morals (I got mine at K-Mart... they were a blue-light special). So those opposed to "moral legislation" (legislation made from outside morals) can still get behind anti-poverty laws if they see the injustice that exists in poverty.