There was a song by pop singer Neil Sadaka titled "Breaking Up is Hard to Do." It was doo-wop lament about the challenges of ending a relationship. I thought of that song this morning as I glanced at some national newspapers on-line, and read the articles about the debate in Washington D.C. regarding our economy, the need to reduce our national deficit, tax policies, and the staggering accumulation of wealth by the top 1-2% of our citizenery.
There are too few people acting like adults in this discussion. People who would be leaders keep playing to their "base" but for the challenge to be solved we are going to have to do some adult things.
Which means some programs will need to be cut. Costs will need to be contained. Tough choices will need to be made. (We were wrestling, in medical ethics classes at IU more than thirty years ago, with the need to make tough choices in medical care. Does an 85 diabetic male receive a heart transplant if those same funds could take care of the medical needs of one hundred children, for example.)
What is alarming to me is the way some of our leaders seem eager to cut programs that assist the very young, the very old, and the very vulnerable -while saying almost nothing about tax breaks for oil companies and the need to trim our massive military budget. I wonder if some of our leaders, who seem most eager to make the cuts in social programs, have read the prophets of the Old Testament or the words of Jesus in Matthew 25. God does not take kindly to empires that forget the people at the bottom of the economic hill.
It means that tax revenue will need to be increased. It is stunning to see what would happen to our deficit problem if the tax cuts from an earlier era were allowed to expire. In fact, some folks I read say -people on the left and right seem to agree to this- the entire tax code needs to be simplified and made more fair.
I saw a column by Walter Mondale this morning that said Americans will pay for their priorities. I think he is right. I agree with some Republican leaders who say our people will make sacrifices if we are all in this together. The people of America, I am convinced, have more courage than their leaders are giving them credit for. Americans sacrificed during the Depression. Americans sacrificed during World War II. Our people will do without if that is what it will take to move forward. To keep our grandchildren from living in a debtor nation.
I tell people that my decision to leave Elkhart was an adult moment for me. My heart wanted to stay but I was convinced Elkhart Trinity needed a new start, a new voice, and I believed God had good work for me to do among great people here at Bloomington First. But I had to set aside the easy thing to do the right thing, the adult thing. This is a growing up moment for our country. We need to begin acting like adults. And growing up can be hard to do.