Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

Beware of the Chair

Derek
“The reality is that in order to break free from the bondage [of poverty] in this country and the world, we need elected officials to make good on their words and put 'love thy neighbor' at the center of our legislative agenda.” said Derick Dailey, in a video from Bread for the World's 2013 Offering of Letters, "A Place at the Table." (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

By Robin Stephenson

The shutdown is over and the debt ceiling has been raised — for now.  The finish line – a final 2014 budget and a responsible replacement of sequestration – was moved to early next year.  For faithful advocates these new developments mean a chance to take a breath, but beware of the chair.

Amelia Kegan, our senior policy analyst, talked about the allure of what runners call “the chair” during this week's grassroots webinar and conference call. Kegan, who recently completed a 100-mile race in Pennsylvania, warned that after you’ve hit the 60-mile mark and come to an aid station, you inevitably see a chair. Tired, you eye it with longing. But, you know that once you sit in that chair and your eyes begin to droop with relaxation, it is much harder to get back up and finish the race.

Our race to end hunger is long and, as the last several months have proved, sometimes frustrating. We share victories, but we also share despair.  I’ve heard more than one anti-hunger advocate say that, at times, they’ve wanted to cap their pen, hang up their phone, and never speak to another politician.

I wonder how Moses did it, all those years in the desert?  I imagine his often “stiff-necked” charges always asking: are we there yet? I often see this race to end hunger as being similar to crossing that desert — long and tiring, to say the least. At times manna is given to us when we most need it, but like Moses we must wander as servants of the Lord, faithful that the journey is part of the reward.

We know we are not alone as a network of Christians and we know that God is in our midst. Like Moses, we have answered God’s invitation to “come.” Perhaps, like Moses, we might feel inadequate for the job — especially against special interests and the power of money. But we are not inadequate in the eyes of God, whose power is greater than all.

Moses probably saw his share of chairs in the desert. Coming off the mountain, he finds corruption and idol worship among his people. He is angry, but he doesn’t sit down, he travels on.

The coming months will continue to be tough. The farm bill conference is likely to begin soon and our collective responsibility to care for the widow and the orphan will again be called into question as SNAP faces yet another attack. The expected immigration reform legislation in the House and continued budget negotiations reminds us that we must encourage those who have the power of the purse in order to live out the command to love our neighbor.

Are we there yet? No, but we have travelled the trail faithfully. Take a moment, say a prayer of thanks that we passed this hurdle, but beware of the chair — we have work to do.

Robin Stephenson is the national lead for social media and a senior regional organizer in the western hub.

 

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