Saturday, June 30, 2012

Chris Hedges on Treatment of Least Among Us as Litmus Test for Morality

In a posting yesterday discussing the Affordable Care Act and the U.S. Catholic bishops, I stated that American Catholics are not likely to hear the moral voice in public discussion from our bishops these days.  And so we listen for that voice where we can find it--often, within other communities of faith, Christian or non-Christian alike.  Or coming from people of sound moral judgment and strong conscience who have no faith commitment at all, or who have even rejected religion altogether, because of the tendency of every religious group throughout history to do serious harm to people when it loses sight of the centrality of what Karen Armstrong calls practical compassion (click this label at the foot of the posting to find what I've posted on the topic).  

For my money, the clear moral voice I seek, but seldom hear, from the pastoral leaders of my faith community, often comes from commentators like Rachel Maddow, Bill Donohue Moyers,*  or Chris Hedges--none of them Catholic.  Here's Chris Hedges at Truthdig discussing Jonathan Haidt's book The Righteous Mind

Haidt ignores the wisdom of all the great moral and religious writings on the ethical life, from the biblical prophets to the Egyptian Book of the Dead, to the Sermon on the Mount, to the Quran and the Bhagavad Gita, which understand that moral behavior is determined by our treatment of the weakest and most vulnerable among us. It is easy to be decent to your peers and those within your tribe. It is difficult to be decent to the oppressed and those who are branded as the enemy.

This is the kind of solid moral insight that needs to be defended by people of faith in the discussion of healthcare as a basic human right.  It is not, unfortunately, the kind of moral insight we Catholics are now apt to hear from our bishops, who have sold themselves to the 1% and have determined to turn the Catholic church in the U.S. into a Republican voting machine.

But, of course, when they betray children abused by priests, adult survivors of childhood clerical sexual abuse asking for healing and justice, and gay and lesbian human beings, they can hardly claim with a straight face to be all about defending the vulnerable, assisting the least among us, and safeguarding human rights in any other area, can they?

Engage your treatment of children abused by priests, and of gays and lesbians, and of women, bishops, and I might stop tuning out when you talk about abortion as the overriding moral issue of our times.  Because I can't take the only-fetuses-demand-attention argument seriously at all when I look at your treatment of survivors of clerical sexual abuse, gay and lesbian people, and women.

*Sincere thanks to Fred Clark for pointing out that when my brain thought Moyers, my fingers typed Donohue when I wrote this posting earlier today.  This should serve as a reminder to me to peck out my morning postings only after my morning coffee has kicked in !

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