By Scott Budzar
On a Tuesday morning I watched a video from a hip-hop artist known as Common just after I had heard the latest headlines of 250 people being killed in Iraq that morning. Then I listened to some poetry by Common. Needless to say, I was floored. I cracked open a book, I have, entitled The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. Three words struck my heart with such force I could not hide. Those three words: “Poverty of conscience.” So I stayed up late that night and wrote this:
A saint once said without any wonder,
The bread you dont use
is the bread of those who hunger.
So shall I sit around (remote control in hand)
and temporize my ability or inability to respond to all those hungry eyes?
Or can I be so brave
as to weep over my own neglect
Of all the meals I threw away
and the spare change that I kept.
We have categories:
Vegetarian or Vegan,
Carnivores and Free-Gans
With bumper stickers to criticize
each others decisions.
Stop with your stance and can you listen?
While this day 6,500 will die from malnutrition.
Tomorrow morning a fatherless son,
a mother and her HIV infected daughter
Will walk 10 miles for a few gallons
of fecal laden water.
A trip that will provide hardly enough
to temporarily quench a thirst.
Without a choice they knowingly drink a death
but all the while they give thanks to God for life first.
Pipelines of this liquid life
run all throughout my home.
Is it something I can give or share
or just claim it as my own.
I mean… Does my lawn really need water to be a little greener for all my neighbors to see?
Or dare I be convinced that 150 people die every hour that I decide to think more about me?
There is not one black family or face
on the street where I reside.
But in the most impoverished section of my city the white face is harder to find.
I cannot settle for the thats just how it is response
Because we Christians should know thats not what God wants.
How much can minimum wage feed a single mom with two?
The wealthiest nation in the world says 50 bucks a month will do.
Can you give to the needy
instead of excelling at the art of excuse?
Or is it just easier to get upset when someone on welfare eats better than you?
They say managing poverty is big business.
So is the Church gonna get Mega or oppose this?
All this reaching inward is a kick in the teeth to folks already knocked down;
While pastors take lessons from marketing strategies instead of the Sermon on the Mount.
Racism, fair trade, war and peace.
Such cool words to print on a t-shirt
and then sell to you and me.
Please tell me that when the Church is asked to respond to those in need
That we wont form some holy huddle and chant, “WWJD.”
Does all my ranting qualify me
as just a liberal social Gospel fanatic?
Or if Im a republican then, oh yeah –
I must be a war-loving addict.
And since when did Christianity all of a sudden become just about the issues of homosexuality and abortion.
When hookers, thieves, and notorious sinners knew Yahweh as their Portion.
I wonder of these things
with a frustration and confusion
that will not go away.
It is because I cannot escape
or blanket my heart
from the things Jesus had to say.
Have we, oh Church, blessed God with monuments or have we paved another mile for hell to come.
In the words of MLK –
a “poverty of conscience”
is what we suffer from.
If you liked this poem, check out: Poverty of the Mall