February 2023

February Thought for the Month

"With compassion one becomes courageous. Compassion brings triumph when attacked; it brings security when maintained."

~ Tao Te Ching

We have all seen moments of compassion that inspire us thanks to the reality of camera phones everywhere. Rarely do these moments come from the people we elected to govern us. How many times have we thought or said, why won't they stand up for what's right? Why aren't they doing what we elected them to do?

Compassion is defined as sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others. Courage is born from compassion. It takes courage to stand against the political current, especially if there's benefit in letting it carry you along. Unfortunately, the last few years have shown us that compassion is dying in the leadership of government and business, and with it the courage to do the right thing.

Decisions are being made practically on a daily basis that only consider how much money someone (not us) is going to make. Little to no consideration is given to who will pay the price for someone else's benefit. Think about it:

Creators of lifesaving medications price them for profit, leaving patients in need to either do without or cut their dosages. Rather than create affordable housing or incentivize others to do so, city and state governments have chosen to push the homeless out of sight and out of mind.

When workers fight for safe conditions, living wages, and decent healthcare, big business works with government to defeat them and maintain the status quo. As long as the money keeps flowing up, none of them care about the consequences the working class must endure thanks to their decisions. They respond with nonsensical sayings like "Pull yourself up by your bootstraps." Have you ever tried? When you're wearing those boots no amount of pulling on those straps is going to get you anywhere.

The government wants to reduce or eliminate the social services that help the underpaid survive to make up the shortfall in tax revenue caused by giving tax breaks to those who don't need them. For example, a bill before the Iowa legislation takes things like canned goods, fresh meat, and white bread off the list of foods people can buy with food stamps, as well as makes it even harder for them to qualify. They never considered that in some towns and neighborhoods, healthier options aren't available or accessible (learn more).

There is also talk of raising the Social Security retirement age to 67 because, as Republican Representative Rick Allen of Georgia put it, "Well, you know, if people want to work longer, maybe you need an incentive to do it." (Learn more.) First, if they want to there's no need for an incentive. Second, Social Security already has an incentive system in place. He and the politicians who agree with him are ignoring the reality that some workers will always need to retire earlier for health reasons. Third, the reason many people want to continue working isn't because they love it. It's because they weren't able to save enough for retirement to leave the workforce early.

If these politicians and executives exercised their compassion muscles, our government and businesses would achieve what they want without hurting the people they depend on. People paid a living wage or better (I'd like to see any one of these officials and executives try to live one month on minimum wage after taxes) put that money back into the economy in increased spending, which increases the revenue from sales taxes without raising taxes. Increased income also means an uplift in federal, state, and local income tax revenue. Social security would also benefit from increased wages.

The Bible says that the love of money is the root of all evil, and we are seeing the fruit of it in today's political and corporate leadership. People everywhere need to cultivate compassion in their own hearts and, more importantly for us all, require it in the men and women we choose to govern us. We must also support the businesses whose leadership embraces it. That won't be easy, but if we don't, we will end up with the kind of country and world no one wants.

[Thought and image design by Elaine C. Oldham]

022022 thought image
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