2012-05-03

Lost But Making Good Time

The great catcher for the New York Yankees, Yogi Bierra, got his start in the minor leagues. Once, the team bus was winding its way through the hinterlands looking for some small town where the team was due to play. Yogi was studying the road map. He looked at his watch.

"We're lost," he announced. "But we're making good time."

Our economy for the last 70 years -- the recent recession notwithstanding – has been making good time. But we're lost.

To begin to find our way, we have to understand where we took a wrong turn. We took a wrong turn when we decided that the measure of how well we’re doing is our total wealth rather than how it is distributed. We take a wrong turn every time we look at our national mean per capita income, or mean per capita spending, or mean per capita productivity, but don’t look at the standard deviation, don't look at the growing gaps between us and how that gap corrodes our common life.

To help our country find its way again, people of good will (that would be us, right?) must have some basic facts ready at hand. We need to know some numbers. We need to let our voices be heard. We are a people of faith, a people of heart and soul, and we want peace. Our spirits long to be made whole.

Yes, all around us we see such amazing beauty. As the song goes:
I seen trees of green, red roses too
I see ’em bloom for me and you.
I see skies of blue, clouds of white
Bright blessed days, dark sacred nights.
The colors of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by.
I see friends shaking hands, saying how do you do?
They’re really saying, “I love you.”
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.



What a wonderful world!

Because this world is so intrinsically wonderful, when injustice mars that wonder, it tears our hearts. That wonderful world needs us. It needs our engagement. As thoughtful people, people of heart striving for a fuller love, as people of a faith that tells us that everyone is worthy of decent treatment, as people whose spirits long to be made whole, what is ours to do is to speak up for fairness, equality, love. The public arena needs our voices: writing letters to the editor, letters to our lawmakers, organizing, filling up the blogosphere, and the social media with our vision. Let the beauty we love be what we do.

But there are two things missing from public discourse. Truth is just one of them. Listening is the other. Our world needs our engagement, and, yes, it needs us to speak some truth, it needs our faithful voices at the table. And it needs us not to let that need lead us to fail to listen. And I know this is hard. I have not mastered the skill of making sure a person has been heard and feels heard before I venture to offer an alternative viewpoint. But I believe in such listening. If we help each other, we can learn this together.

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This is part 1 of 7 of "Our Spirits Long to be Made Whole"
Next: Part 2: "Numbers to Know"
"Come spirit come, our hearts control. Our spirits long to be made whole.
Let inward love guide every deed. By this we worship and are freed." Verse 3 of "Thou I May Speak with Bravest Fire", words by Hal Hopson, melody from Trad. English. Hear the tune: click here..