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Our Greatest Social Challenge: Resources or Compassion?

dennis peacockeby Dennis Peacocke

November 2011

Whether we talk about the current economic challenges or the debate concerning immigration, it all comes down to the same basic challenge; do we focus on math and laws, or do we focus on the “human-need issues” involved in the equation? There is really nothing new here. History and life are filled with the similar challenges of weighing in on the tensions between justice and mercy, law or grace, and a host of other challenging opposites each vying for their side in our judgment calls. Our greatest task is to find the proper balance in these critical choices so as to end up with a both-and position rather than the uncompromising position of either-or.

What is making all of these social challenges even tougher is all the political rhetoric surrounding these great issues. The right-left game is pressing the body politic unceasingly with hard-line arguments which seldom address both sides of the equation at all, let alone fairly.

Whether it is the exceedingly dangerous game of economic-class politics or the increasingly vicious personal attacks coming from both sides of the political spectrum, our nation is being divided over secondary arguments rather than dealing with the essential ability to find both sides of the real issues with both-and solutions that permit our society to remain together.

The economic crisis is going to require unprecedented levels of sacrifice on both sides of the resource-compassion equation. The simple math of the economics of this crisis cannot just “go away” because we all want it to. Our real unfunded public liabilities are over 100 trillion dollars rather than the mere 15 trillion dollar figure commonly thrown around. This figure is well known by those doing the math of all that is publicly owed from our cities, counties, states, and Federal obligations combined. It is being wisely hidden from the general public because of the obvious implications it carries. When we talk about the immigration issues, the challenge is that our borders with Mexico are serving up a political-economic asylum issue and not a mere immigration issue. Mexico is falling apart and people are fleeing because of it. Humanitarian good will may well demand one solution, but our current laws demand another.

Our nation may hang in the balance over the coming decade. We need absolute clarity on the real core issues and not the simple-minded arguments often set forth by the politicians whose primary concerns are mere votes for themselves rather than taking the higher road of statesmanship which looks at the long range options facing us as a people. Money, resources, jobs, viable social-safety nets, and the right to vote as informed legal citizens is the balancing act we face. Reality is hitting us and demands a level of humane sacrifice from us as a people that will test the nation by a both-and proposition, and that is…

the bottom line.