Two blogs mention book-related relief for our US refugees: MJRose’s blog on September 7th, and Susan McBride in the Lipstick Chronicles, also on September 7. Because of the unfortunate possibility of scams–white collar looting–I can’t suggest where to send your money. But if you have a group of refugees in your town, take them a bag of books, especially children’s books. Write a check to the Red Cross or to your church, if they’re responding. And most of all, don’t lose your anger.
If you’re reading this, you are by definition among the elite upper crust, as am I. We Americans like to think of ourself as a classless nation, because the walls of class here are more easily breached than in places where class is defined by birth, but the raw facts are currently being shown on CNN and the evening news. Those of us who can afford computers, who have been blessed with the education to make sense of them, who have a clean, dry place in which to sit reading words on a screen, are this world’s upper class. As such, we have a responsibility to shelter the poor, and we have failed. Poverty is a condition, not a moral state, and the only thing that keeps any of us above the line is luck.
I am happy to say that my own publisher, Random House, and its corporate head Bertelsmann, are parting with a million dollars. They are also matching employee donations, and sending children’s books to shelters. They sent the same monies to the victims of the tsunami. I hope other companies are doing the same.
But I wonder how many of our country’s so-called leaders tithe? How many of those self-proclaimed caring Christians habitually write out checks for a generous slice of their income? Tithing is hard–ten percent of what you earn is a cut large enough to feel, no matter the income. That’s the idea. Sacrifice is meaningless if it doesn’t hurt.
But the funny thing is, it also heals. Offering something important to the poor, or to the gods, or to God, returns it to the giver. And holding on to anger, nursing it and aiming it where it might do some good, also heals.
Enough. This country, this people, is greater than what is coming out of DC. The shame of their comments, even those of Barbara Bush, a woman I had thought relatively sensible, humiliates us all in the eyes of the world, in our own eyes.
Enough. I am a Christian. I am an American. These people do not speak for me.