Towel Power

“Am I better off than I was four years ago?” This is the wrong question for Christians. Jesus came to liberate us. He came to liberate us from the tyranny of our false selves—I, moi, me. Jesus lived by towel power. He took the towel and a basin and washed the feet of his disciples. He by example was teaching us to look beyond ourselves and our own petty needs and wants. Discipleship is all about service to one another.
The universe bends toward justice, toward right order and right relationships. Relationships suggests that is it about US. WE are the people of God. WE are church.
Catholic social teaching is rooted firmly in basic principles. Chief among these is the life and dignity of the human person. This is foundational. Three other basic principles are prioritizing the needs of the poor and vulnerable, the common good, and solidarity. Solidarity means that we are all in this together. The common good means that we look beyond ourselves and look at what will serve the needs of all.
In selecting our elected leaders, we should be asking whether WE will be better off four years from now. WE!
At the present time we are not doing well. The economy is in recession. Lower and middle class wage earners are falling farther behind. Wages are not keeping up with inflation. Rising food costs and energy prices are consuming a larger portion of income, especially among those who make the least. Unemployment is at 6.1%. Underemployment is at 10.7%. The largess of a 3% quarterly rise in national product is not trickling down to the middle class or the least among us. The income gap is widening as more and more income “untrickles” at the top.
In 2007, 5.7 million more people are living below the poverty line than in 2000. In 2007, 37.3 million Americans lived in poverty. Actually, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development took a poll. Respondents believed that it takes at least $36,000 for a family of four to live above the poverty line. The government figure for a family of four is $21,000. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that more than 37.3 million Americans are actually living in poverty.
At least 45.7 million Americans, including 8.1 million children under 18, do not have health insurance. The least among us are not doing well.
The least among us lack food, clothing, shelter, health care and education and they are living in the richest country in the history of the world.
In case you have not noticed, we are having an election. Some people have tried to make abortion the litmus test, the only issue for Christians. It is one life issue among many. I am opposed to abortion. I am also opposed to poverty, racism, genocide, war, nuclear weapons, global warming, and human exploitation. The church teaches that we are to be opposed to all these intrinsic evils—abortion, euthanasia, stem cell research, racism, genocide, torture, and the intentional targeting of noncombatants in terrorism and war. We are also to be concerned about poverty which Gandhi called the worst form of violence. According to the catechism, we are also to oppose the death penalty.
Being pro-life is about more than being against abortion. Pro-life is from conception to natural death, not from conception until birth. This ushers in a whole plethora of life issues and quality of life issues. In John 10:10, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, says, “I have come that you might have life and that you might have everything you need.” Our God wants every human person to have what he/she need to live life and to live life in to the fullest.
What then about the quality of life for the impoverished, the unemployed, the uninsured? Jesus has made it clear. He will not ask about our bank account, stock holdings, houses, car or accomplishments. We will be judged on how we have treated the least among us.
As Catholic Christians, we must make informed moral decisions based on our consciences. Politics is messy. There are no clear cut issues. One candidate is pro-choice. The other candidate is pro-life; however, the “pro-life” candidate believes in exceptions for rape and incest and supports stem cell research. There are no pro-life candidates for president.
The question then is, “Will WE ALL be better off four or eight years from now?” Let’s face it. Neither candidate is going to radically change anything. Once elected they will be controlled by the same power brokers that have created the present mess.
Practically speaking, the questions then become. Which candidate offers the most hope for doing something to alleviate the violence and suffering of poverty? Which candidate offers the best hope for the unemployed? Which candidate offers the best hope for avoiding preemptive war and living peacefully with all our brothers and sisters around the globe? Who offers the best hope for solving our environmental problems before it is too late?
We must weigh all these issues. We must vote for the common good. You will find a guide which explains all these things in more detail at The Platform for the Common good can be found at
As committed Christians we are here to serve. We are here to serve the common good. We have towel power.

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