Father Michael Pfleger’s recent editorial in the Chicago Tribune “Chicago Stuck on Destitute – 30 Years Later” struck me as hopeless and sad. He was lamenting the 30 year anniversary of a Tribune series on poverty because nothing has changed. And sadly, I don’t think it will ever really change. Poverty has been with us throughout human history and it will remain with us in the future. Here are some of Pfleger’s words:
Today, there is a paralyzing sense of hopelessness and despair. Much of the fighting spirit seems to be fractured and divided. We seem immune to the continuing economic and social devastation. I fear America has decided that not everyone is going to make it and in order for some to have more, others will have less. Thirty years later it seems that entire communities are still being treated as disposable.
He went on to quote Martin Luther King, Jr. on a more hopeful note:
People everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down men other-centered can build up. I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive good will proclaim the rule of the land. And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid.
It’s a nice dream. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a dream. Humans will always be at economic war with each other because resources are scarce and allocation of them is forceful – under any economic system. Defend yourself. Poverty and eternal vigilance are the price of liberty. Government cannot change human nature but it sure can injure you economically the harder it tries – more on that next week. Your War Chest is situated in the real world…. where lions devour lambs, and always will.