Maryland

Support the Iran Deal. It's Time to Be Peacemakers.

Image via /Shutterstock

Here are the politics of the Iran nuclear deal: Congress returns next week from its summer recess, and among the first orders of business will be taking up the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear program, recently negotiated with Iran in Vienna by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany.

Opponents of the agreement had hoped to use the August break to sway undecided members of Congress. It didn’t happen. Instead, yesterday, Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland became the 34th senator to publicly support the accord— meaning there are enough votes to sustain a presidential veto of any bill intended to kill it.

Now, here is a faith perspective: For Christians, this is a victory for peace and diplomacy over another bloody and destructive war. It is a time when common sense wins over bombast — when reality wins over rhetoric.

A Complicated World Intrudes Upon an Ideologically Driven Congress

Photo via f11photo / shutterstock.com
Photo via f11photo / shutterstock.com

While a new Congress relentlessly pursued its ideological agenda to trim government and reward its big-money patrons, a vastly more complicated world intruded:

  • In Maryland, a bishop reportedly driving drunk struck a bicyclist, fled the scene while he lay dying and, according to some reports, returned only after a church official told her she had to do so.
  • In Paris, a handful of religious terrorists defended the Prophet Muhammad by slaughtering the staff of a satirical magazine.
  • In Nigeria, the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram intensified its systematic massacring of Nigerian citizens.
  • In New York City, police officers wanting more respect from the new mayor waged a childish campaign of disrespect against the mayor and against the people of New York.
  • In Washington, the latest jobs report showed more jobs being created but no gains in pay. That means the lower and middle classes continue to be dragged down by up-with-wealth political actions.

All this in a week’s time, all while Congress was pursuing a stale ideological agenda dating back to the 1930s. In that agenda, legislators would gut Social Security (take that, FDR), reward big oil with a new pipeline (thanks for the patronage, Koch brothers), chip away at Affordable Care (gotcha, Barack) and appease social conservatives.

They would treat the world as a simple place where government must shrink, people must suffer and the precious few must get richer.

A More Just Minimum Wage

"Minimum Wage Rally at Atwater's" by Maryland GovPics / Flickr.com
"Minimum Wage Rally at Atwater's" by Maryland GovPics / Flickr.com

Last summer we marked the 75th anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s signing of the Fair Labor Standards Act – a landmark law that protected children, limited the number of hours in a workweek, and established the nation’s first minimum wage. The genesis of that law is often traced back to the story of one little girl who managed to get a poignant letter in the hands of the campaigning president. The note read:

“I wish you could do something to help us girls. We have been working in a sewing factory, and up to a few months ago we were getting our minimum pay of $11 a week. Today the 200 of us girls have been cut down to $4 and $5 and $6 a week.”

During this season of Lent, as we ponder the deep meaning of our faith, we also contemplate what that faith teaches us about the inherent dignity of every human being, how it compels us to better listen to one another, and why we must always strive to better serve one another.

Shoulder to Shoulder, Brick on Brick

St. Xenia of St. Petersburg. Photo illustration by Cathleen Falsani with image B
St. Xenia of St. Petersburg. Photo illustration by Cathleen Falsani with image By Matti (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativeco

We crested the hill and there it was: a square little brick two-story that had been improved just a little, with a welcoming windowed front and a high, aerie-like upstairs. It was the cheapest house we’d seen, and because it was 2005 and things were crazy, we spent about twenty minutes deliberating and put in a contract with a modest escalation. When we found out later that the house was ours, we found out we'd beaten out another family. The house had been listed barely a day.

As we found out later, we’d put in the contract on the feast day of Saint Xenia of Petersburg, a nineteenth-century Russian “fool-for-Christ” who'd mourned her army colonel husband’s death by donning his uniform and living as a pauper in the city's streets, performing unasked acts of generous service.

It is said that at night she hauled bricks to hasten completion of a church’s construction, and on the internet you can find a copy of this wonderful icon, St. Xenia hoisting herself on a brick construction wall with her long grey hair swinging. One of the things for which St. Xenia is said to intercede is to help people in finding housing.

Maryland Acts for Privacy and Peace

Since 1968, public high schools in most states have been administering a military aptitude test and providing the Pentagon with names, addresses, and phone numbers, detailed career plans, Social Security numbers, ethnicity, demographic information, and three and a half hours of test data—without the knowledge or consent of the students’ parents. In May, Maryland became the first state to bar this practice.

Effective in July, individual students in Maryland public schools that administer the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) or their parents must give written consent for personal information to be given to military recruiters; otherwise schools will not pass on the information.
“The idea that hundreds of thousands of American children,” Pat Elder, a member of the Maryland Coalition to Protect Student Privacy, told Sojourners, “are required or strongly encouraged to take a military test during school hours and have all the results shipped to the Pentagon without parental knowledge is unconscionable.” Elder, who also counsels troubled military veterans, led the drive to prohibit the use of the ASVAB test for recruitment purposes in Maryland.

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine July 2010
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