Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Leonard Pitts on the Voice We Don't Wish to Hear at Our Political Conventions

As the Democrats follow the Republican with a big show-convention in Charlotte (and parties!parties!parties! with glamor!glamor!glamor!), Leonard Pitts reminds us of the voice we won't hear at the DNC any more than we heard it at the RNC: it's the voice of the poor.  Of the dispossessed.  Of the homeless.  Of the 46,000,000 Americans now living below the poverty line.

A voice that has vanished from our television screens, our cultural debates, the sermons we hear each Sunday.  As if the poor, the dispossessed, and the homeless have themselves vanished.

Though they clearly haven't.  We can all see them almost any day of the week almost anywhere in our country, sitting on sidewalks asking for assistance, walking the streets of our towns and cities needing medical care, housing, food.

They're there.  But we don't want to see.  Or to hear their voices.  

Pitts writes,

Granted, it is comforting to believe otherwise, comforting to believe the line separating them from you is Hulk-strong and neon bright, that their situation reflects some failing - moral, spiritual, intellectual - that you, righteous soul, do not suffer. Comforting. But then, self-delusion often is. 
Life happened to them, same as it happens to anyone. And they deserve what anyone would want. Not a handout nor even just help, but first, an acknowledgement that they are there. 
See me. Speak my name. Make me real.

46,000,000 fellow Americans who are now completely invisible to many of us--me included.  We carry on with our lives and our political deliberations as if they aren't there.  While the most obtrusively religious among us pound their bibles to remind us how little we heed God's word any longer.

But somehow forgetting as they do so that the Jewish and Christian scriptures are brimfull of warnings about what will be the fate of nations (and individuals) who forget the least among us.

(Thanks to Abby Zimet at Common Dreams for bringing Pitts's commentary to my attention.)

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