"The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry; the coat hanging unused in your closet belongs to the one who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the one who has no shoes; the money which you put in the bank belongs to the poor." ... St. Basil the Great
NOTE: This column was originally written by myself in April of 2005 and is even more relevant today.
As the nation prepares for a papal visit this week from its spiritual leader, we are reminded of the needless duress the Bush presidency has inflicted upon the global community. Although the reigning Pope's legacy is yet to be determined, it's consistent with his predecessor's belief that nuclear catastrophe awaits us unless Americans intervene and reverse the policies of the present administration to emphasize peaceful diplomacy and more humane economic solutions.
As the world paused last week to pay respect to an individual who had become universally recognized as the moral compass to millions of its inhabitants, President Bush must have been dismayed that Pope John Paul's passing had upstaged his quest to dismantle practically everything this holy man advocated.
Although publicly, while attending the funeral Bush, appeared solemn for the cameras focusing on him, his statements about the Pope's legacy are indicative of the type of selective interpretation of Bible Scripture conservatives have used to build a coalition in support of unrestrained corporate government everywhere.
Bush, who claims to be a "born again" Christian was only willing to credit the Pope for accomplishments which coincided with his political ideology and strengthen support among his conformist base. It's a propaganda technique long embraced by free market extremists of the Bush variety adapted in this instance to try and convince others the teachings and actions of John Paul II were evidence he was procapitalist. In Bush's radio address on April 9, 2005, he focused primarily on the Pope's impact on Communism and his respect for life. His remarks implied Iron Curtain leaders had "underestimated" John Paul's "influence" and the morality of his message led to their overthrow. Afterwards, the President asserted the Pope's opposition to abortion and euthanasia was consistent with his own efforts to intervene on Terri Schiavo's behalf.
"By his own courageous example in the face of illness and suffering, he showed us the path to a culture of life where the dignity of every human person is respected, and human life at all its stages is revered and treasured," Bush said.
Bush's attempt to slant the Pope's beliefs to make it appear his own values
concur with the moral philosophy of John Paul II are an insult to Christians
everywhere. From the moment he took office, Bush has violated every ethical doctrine exhorted by this true man of peace and compassion. The President's arrogance and disrespect for the divine principles encouraged by the Holy Father's example are a testament to the negative consequences resulting when capitalism rampages unchecked by moral restraint. Perhaps it was Bush's recognition that the Pontiff was a Christian in the socialist tradition who believed in civil liberties such as the right to eat, to meaningful employment, adequate wages to support a family and provide necessary shelter, health care and financial protection as an individual grows elderly, which caused the President to dismiss much of John Paul's religious convictions. During Bush's reign, every one of the guarantees described have been reordered or attempts made to revise them to a radical free market approach ensuring only the prosperity of corporations.
Unlike Bush, John Paul didn't randomly pick Bible verses and fashion them to suit a political agenda. His perspective wasn't narrowly driven by greed. The Pope's positions were based on a comprehensive study of the meaning contained within these Holy Writs passed down through the millennia. He offered hope to millions inspired by the Holy Spirit which placed the protection of the poor, disabled, the family unit and life as the primary rules that should guide humanity. He believed moral law based on the virtues of faith, hope and charity transcends the rules of man, helping him to make good decisions. In the Pope's view, a market economy mustn't maximize profit of the owner, but should be directed towards the common good of all.
Private ownership is acceptable, but its first priority should be to address the needs of the disadvantaged, whether they be individuals or nations. The economic activities of nations should be regulated by a world body such as the United Nations, to which a portion of their profits should be given, and distributed annually. An international justice system like the current World Court would arbitrate disputes and enforce laws against inhumane violations perpetrated by rogue leaders against their countries' inhabitants. With such a system in place, John Paul believed the choice between extravagant capitalism
and dictatorial regimes could be surpassed and move mankind closer to fulfilling God's commandment to "love one another" without jeopardizing a nation's sovereignty.
More than enough evidence exists in the public record to expose Bush for the charlatan he is rather than the pious, god fearing individual he would have the public believe. The Pope urged respect for all life, but the President has narrowed that request to mean only if it involves protecting the unborn or those facing circumstances making euthanasia necessary. The lives of death row inmates and innocent victims killed in war are expendable. Family values are just a political slogan for Bush. When he took office, he was left with a substantial surplus to ensure families would get the education, health care and financial security in their elderly years they needed, but chose instead to waste it on a war in Iraq, the justification for which was built on lies. Americans are now left with rising inflation which exceeds their wages, no employer sponsored medical coverage and the undesirable prospect their retirement safety net will be taken from them.
Bush has been busy in the international arena as well. His recent nominations of John Wolfowitz to the World Bank, John Negroponte as U.S.Intelligence Director and John Bolton for the United States UN representative suggests he has no intention of respecting John Paul's desire for these international bodies to be developed as global institutions for peace. Wolfowitz, a chief architect of the Iraq war which the Pope opposed, will be the President's advocate for trading monetary relief to poor countries in return for allowing corporations to enter and exploit their labor at a cheap price. If Bolton is confirmed, his mission will involve proposing international initiatives intended to weaken the jurisdiction of the World Court and placing corporate desires above protection of labor. Negroponete has a well documented history of being a hatchet man for Republican administrations, including allegedly covering up CIA sponsored human
rights abuses in Honduras during the 1980s, petitioning the UN on George Bush's behalf to diminish the World Court's relevance in determining if the Iraq invasion was illegal, and overseeing the setup of the present provisional puppet government there while serving as U.S. Ambassador. All have expressed dislike for the United Nations in the past and along with Bush would like to change its purpose from humanitarian to one in which ultra laissez-faire economic proponents have virtual control.
Cafeteria Christians, both free market Catholics and evangelical Protestants will tell you the Pope's political views were Marxist and emphasis should be
placed on changing individuals residing within an economic structure rather than the system itself. They stress individuals must be taught how to contribute productively so as not to become dependent on government. These are valid goals but unmatched by the harsh, insensitive economic realities resulting from the style of wealth management put into place by Bush. It's a top down approach, materialistic in nature, solely acquiescent to the greedy desires of corporations. In contrast, John Paul II accepted capitalism but felt profits should go towards making the family secure first rather than trickling down from the owners of production. Was the Pope a pinko for advocating peaceful solutions over Bush-stlye self interests? Not likely and by Bush's own admission he played a monumental role in the fall of Communism.
The biggest distinction between Bush and the Pope is the President subscribes to man made laws, referencing religious edicts only when its politically advantageous for him to do so. John Paul drew upon the wisdom of divine teachings found in the Bible which offers a comprehensive road map to address all of life's complexities. Although Christians are divided as to how they should be interpreted and applied, one overriding principle is accepted by all. Humans are motivated by the sin of greed and their behavior won't alter unless they experience a change of heart. Apparently, Mr. Bush is still working on this transformation despite his assertion he's been reborn.