Our Chance for Historic Change

In his book Balaam’s Donkey, Michael Casey, self-described as “Monk of Tarrawarra Abbey,” Australia suggests that those who pontificate (such as meself) should sprinkle their words with a healthy dose of question marks, indicating “I may be wrong.” In that spirit, the Last Election Blog of 2020.

Why sing the same tune? some might ask. My views on the current administration (which America editor Matt Malone, SJ calls “the national nightmare”) are already clear. Perhaps it’s the compulsion to speak while we still have the chance, so we can someday tell our grandchildren, “we tried.” I can’t shake the conviction that this is our moment in history to boldly say the ancient words, “Adsum,” meaning “I am here.” Each person’s choices, actions and vote matter profoundly.

For some who still question how Catholics can support Biden, I’d suggest broadening the concept of “pro life.” Jesus himself set the law within the wider context of God’s compassion. Surely it can’t be construed as “pro life” if:

–50,000 deaths due to COVID could’ve been prevented were it not for Trump’s “colossal failure of leadership,” according to Larry Brilliant, a veteran epidemiologist quoted in the New York Times Oct. 25.

–the dangerous failure to consider the science of climate change and enact policy to prevent environmental destruction “threatens to end the whole of humanity,” Robert W. McElroy, bishop of San Diego says.

–8 million North Americans have slipped into poverty since May, a Columbia University study found.

–1 in 7 households with children told the census: not enough to eat in the last 7 days

–More than 40% of adults reported struggling with mental health, and an addiction program called Provoking Hope estimates that relapses into addiction have increased 50% since the pandemic.

–Lawyers appointed by a federal judge to identify migrant families separated by the Trump administration can’t find the parents of 545 children.  About two-thirds of those parents were deported to Central America without their children, according to NBC news. Heartbreak is intangible, but consider the trauma to even ONE of those children…

–Divisions of race, class and gender have intensified, driven by the president’s hateful rhetoric. As Marilynne Robinson, Pulitzer prize winning author writes, “If we learn anything from this sad passage in our history it should be that rage and contempt are a sort of neutron bomb in the marketplace of ideas… This country would do itself a world of good by restoring a sense of the dignity, even the beauty, of individual ethicalism, of self restraint, of courtesy.”

Last November, Catholic bishops wrote in their new introductory letter to Faithful Citizenship:” “To say that abortion is the pre-eminent issue in a particular political season is to reduce the common good, in effect, to one issue. And that’s a distortion of Catholic teaching.” Or, as Nicholas Kristof asked in his column 10/28/20: “Wouldn’t we all be better off if “pro-life” became not just a zealous slogan but a compassionate way of life?”

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