During this month of political conventions, when America’s two major parties adopt platforms designed to further their particular goals, it’s clear that neither party’s goals reflect a genuine total commitment to God, all of God’s people and all of God’s creation.
What is needed is a platform for all the people — that protects the life and promotes the dignity of every single human being from the first moment of conception to natural death.
And those most in need must come first. It’s what Catholic social teaching calls a preferential option for the poor and vulnerable.
Therefore, a political platform for all the people must insist that poverty in the U.S. and throughout the world be eradicated.
As a wealthy nation, the U.S. cannot excuse the sad fact that approximately 47 million of its people live in poverty.
Tonight 300 million of the world’s children will go to bed hungry according to the U.N. Children’s Fund (see: http://www.unicef.org/mdg/poverty.html). Indifference to this tremendous suffering is not compatible with a truly lived Christianity. This should prick our consciences into action!
Everyone deserves adequate and nutritious food, clean water and sanitation, a decent dwelling, humane working conditions with a living wage, basic education, quality health care, and security when old or disabled. That’s what St. John XXIII taught us in his encyclical Pacem in Terris (“Peace on Earth”).
Jeffrey Sachs, special advisor to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, explained to me that for an additional approximate $100 billion dollars annually in poverty-focused development aid, extreme poverty could be completely eradicated from the face of the earth. This $100 billion, he said, could easily be transferred from the huge U.S. military budget.
And even with this $100 billion cut in military spending, the U.S. would still be allocating more money for its military than the combined military budgets of the next six nations.
This is doable!
A political platform for all the earth’s people would make it an absolute priority to abolish all nuclear weapons, completely end the arms trade, engage in a multilateral effort to disarm all nations, and in the words of the world’s Catholic bishops at the Second Vatican Council “strain every muscle in working for the time when all war can be completely outlawed by international consent.”
The near unanimous scientific consensus affirms that the world is dangerously warming — causing increasing floods, droughts, wildfires and super storms. And that this warming is generated primarily by the human burning of fossil fuels.
Therefore, a people’s platform must insist that fossil fuels remain in the ground and that clean renewable sources of energy like wind, solar and geothermal be put on the fast track.
Finally, a platform for all the people cannot morally justify, for any reason whatsoever, the murder of its most vulnerable persons — unborn babies. Such a platform must be deeply committed to completely ending abortion nationally and worldwide as soon as possible.
Not just the unborn, not just the poor, not just the hungry, not just the war-torn, not just undocumented migrants, not just the sick, not just the imprisoned, not just the lonely, not just the environment and not just the spiritually troubled, but all of the above must be included in a political platform for all the people.
For such a platform best reflects Gospel love.
As stated in the closing words of the Pledge of Allegiance, may the United States truly become “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings about Catholic social teaching. His keynote address, "Advancing the Kingdom of God in the 21st Century," has been well received by diocesan and parish gatherings from Santa Clara, Calif. to Baltimore, Md. Tony can be reached at [email protected].