In our community there has been a recent public scandal. As it involved a popular public official, overnight it became the subject of newspaper articles, television pieces, and lots of speculation and gossip. Before that, there was another scandal about a public official in a neighboring county. And weeks before that various scandals of NFL players, or basketball players, or coaches as well as various celebrities that were the talk of the town and media. We seem, as a culture, to go from scandal to sensation to speculation and back to scandal. If the scandal is financial or in some way sexual it piques our interest, and we can’t get enough “news” about it. If we find there is a grain of truth in the allegations, we become even more focused on all the juicy details.
What bothers me the most is that many things that ARE true, long-term scandals we ignore in favor of the salacious. We, for example, live in a country that is truly rich in resources but the gap between the wealthy and the rest of us widens ever more disproportionately year to year. The top one percent in this nation possesses more than the lower 80 percent put together. We have a disappearing middle class, and see good paying jobs disappearing overseas as companies shed workers. They pursue higher and higher pay for administrators and returns for stockholders, paying for it on the backs of workers–preferring temps, or minimum wage offshore. We have a planet that is dying because of our compulsion to pillage it; many species are already on the verge of extinction. Pharmaceutical companies are more focused on the profit line increasing than in providing affordable medication for serious illness. Our national as well as local political life now resembles the clan identity and loyalties of the third world rather than attempts to solve problems and govern for the common good. We would rather be ideologically correct than effective.
We hear from the right that the U.S. is a “Christian” nation. But in our rush for money that bears the words “In God we trust, ” we seem to be a nation that largely ignores the gospel admonition a to care for “the least of these”; to” feed the hungry” and give “clothing to the naked.” The poor now have to pass a means test and assure the rest of us they’re “worthy” of our help. The congressional majority prefer to give tax breaks to corporations rather than to feed, house, educate, and care for our own people–let alone the “tired…poor…and huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” We require the poor to show specific ID in order to vote but those who give huge sums of cash to political campaigns do not have to be identified.
To me these are the scandals we should focus our attention and our indignation on: our dying sense of responsibility for others, and our waning compassion as a nation for those bound in poverty or who are the minimum wage working poor—those with no hope or realistic “American dream” for a better life. For this nation, founded “Under God,” these are far worse scandals.