Poverty, the Bridge, and the Helping Hand
Bishop T.D. Jakes of the Potter's House in Dallas, Texas delivered an inspiring and healing sermon today at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. on this National Day of Prayer for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. He stressed that faith-in-action is the truest example of sincere compassion toward one's fellow man or woman, and that pretty rhetoric without action is little more than poetry. Speaking about the Biblical parable of the Good Samaritan, he drew out five points and lessons, skillfully applying them to our modern public lives and our treatment of the poorest among us. He called upon Americans to "dare to discuss the unmentionable issues that confront us" and to not rest until the poor are raised to an acceptable living standard.
The first Parable-related point that Bishop Jakes made was that "Restoration is more than observation." We can no longer be a nation of people who can pass the ghetto on our way to Mardi Gras, to pass Harlem on our way to Manhattan, or to pass Compton on our way to Rodeo Drive while ignoring the poverty of our fellow Americans. Second, he raised the question, "Who is my neighbor?" Your neighbors are more than the people who look just like you; who live where you live; or who vote the way you vote. Third, he reminded us of the vision of our wounded neighbors lying by the side of the road (in the parable as well as in New Orleans), and how some people choose to pass them by - a powerful and humbling reminder that you can't help others if you exalt yourself above them. In the parable, the Samaritan came off his beast to help the bleeding man. "Come down where the pain and poverty is," recommended the Bishop. Fourth, Bishop Jakes pressed the fact that "Resources, not rhetoric, are what bring about meaningful changes in our lives." It's not what we say that is important. It's what we do that is important. Real leadership is defined by what we do. The Bishop suggests that we need to love our neighbors enough to "pay the bill." Fifth, he asked the question: "Are our relationships productive?" He said that we must know each other if we are to help one another, despite our distinctive perspectives.
Bishop Jakes spoke about the Twin Span Bridge that connects Slidell, Louisiana to New Orleans which was partially submerged by Katrina and will need rebuilding. He called it a symbol of our need to rebuild bridges between our ideas, perspectives and to build unity. "We can't multiply by dividing and we can't add by subtracting," said Bishop Jakes. If we rebuild that bridge with unity, it could make a real difference, letting go of the divisive illusion that we're black or white; Democrat or Republican; "right" or left." The true vision, he said is "One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." He took his Five Points and compared each of them to a finger of one Helping Hand stretched out our nation's poor and underprivileged, and stretched out to those all over the world who've been ravaged by Poverty. He concluded that our nation - and the world - will be the place we've thought it could be when we've closely examined the lessons of the story of the Good Samaritan and applied them, with faith and action, to our society.
Real leadership is defined by what we do.
How do you believe leadership in government has failed?
Do you agree that national unity is necessary to move us forward successfully in the war against Poverty?