Rev. David Beckmann, Lutheran pastor and president of Bread for the world, appeared on C-Span Saturday morning. Americans are a generous people. It's central to the belief systems of many faiths and an American civil relegion creed. This morning, however, many, many calls, Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike, challenged Beckmann with words such as, "In this economic recession we have so many suffering people, how can you dare to ask us to give to people in other countried?" One said, "We are supposed to help our neighbor, not people around the world."
In the midst of loss of jobs and homes and a general atmosphere of fear, even those of good faith, want to draw in, take care of "our own."
Beckmann, of course, pointed out that the U.S. gives only about1% in foreign aid, and a much small percentage of that to poor people around the world and that the U.S. gives a much smaller percentage than the U.K. or Germany or France. And, Beckmann reminded callers that helping poor people around the world and their nations be more stable and productive, actually will help the U.S. get out of this recession. And, of course, it has long been a scandel in the U.S. that we have so many hungry, homeless people. He stressed that we are called to do both, help here and abroad.
Worth noting is the phenomenon of fear redefining in the minds of people of faith who is our neighbor. What is our basic belief about the Creating, Providing God?
For more information about Bread for the World go to www.bread.org. Also check into the legislation calling for reform in foreign aid so that our aid agencies, national and private, are more coordinated so that aid is more effective. The call to help one's neighbor is a call to care for those down the street and around the globe.