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Arkansas Catholic
Litlte Rock, Arkansas
September 4, 1999     Arkansas Catholic
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September 4, 1999
 

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Page 14 September 4, 1999 ARKANSAS CATHOLIC What was it that kept drawing me to get involved with Granny D? You probably saw her on the TV news or in the newspaper -- that diminu- tive 89-year-old great-grandmother, Doris Haddock. Women's Action for New Directions (WAND) would send me notices: Granny D is coming to Arkansas, come out and walk with her to promote campaign finance reform. "God knows we need it," I say to myself. But it is 100 degrees in the shade, and she walks 10 miles a day! ! missed Monday, then Tuesday, by Wednesday I had guilt feelings, but I only made it to the State Capitol to hear her speak. A small crowd of walkers was with her in the rotunda -- mostly older than me. There were several dignitaries includ- ing Secretary of State Sharon Priest giving her the Arkansas Travelers' Award, Mayor Jim Dailey declaring "Granny D Day" in Little Rock, and Rep. Vic Snyder who walked with her to affirm the need for campaign finance reform. I was there to assuage my guilt, and because I'd had some vague feelings that big bucks for can- didates were getting out of control. When this simple old woman spoke to those gathered, I realized how profound a problem campaign financing was. She said that to have a democracy we gather together around the table, but now in the U.S., only the rich are allowed at the table. The poor have no voice. "For a democracy to work," said Granny D, 'Me must look into each others' eyes and tell each other about our families. We get to know each other, and I care what happens to your Gtl tCalmll family, and you sastnl0m 0c care what hap- pens to mine." She said, that right now, "We have legislators who take a bribe with their left hand and pledge allegiance with their right." So wise was this old woman, that the next morning at 6, I found myself at the Capitol, ready to start for Memphis with Granny D. After three miles, some of us had to leave her to go to work. She made each of us promise we would get at least 50 people to call their senators and represen- tatives to urge them to pass Campaign Finance Reform to save our democracy. (Capitol Switchboard: (202) 224-3121). In the House, floor debate will begin which arise within society are sometimes the week of Sept. 13 on the Shays-Meehan not examined in accordance with criteria Campaign Finance Reform Bill. In of justice and morality, but rather on the October, the Senate will have floor debate basis of the electoral or financial power of on the bipartisan McCain-Feingold the groups promoting them. With time, Campaign Finance Reform Bill, S.26. In essence, it contains three provisions: vol- untary limits on the overall amount of campaign spending, requirements that a majority of a candidate's campaign funds be raised from individuals in their home states, and restrictions on the amount of money wealthy candidates can use in their own campaigns. It's a start! Why was I so taken by Granny D? I think it was because she brought Catholic Social Teaching alive in her wise and wom- anly way. In the U.S. Bishop's 1996 state- ment on "Political Responsibility," they quote Pope John Paul II's "On the 100th Anniversary of Rerum Novarum." They state, "Pope John Paul II has warmly praised democratic values but warned against a 'crisis within democracies which seem at times to have lost the ability to make decisions aimed at the common good.' In an age of powerful political action committees and justifiable public concern about campaign financing, the Holy Father issued a warning which we should take to heart: 'Certain demands such distortions of political conduct create distrust and .apathy, with a subsequent decline in the political participation and civic spirit of the general populatiOn, which feels abused and disillusioned." I heard a poem read on National Public Radio the other day, written by a poet in some other country. The poem was about the kitchen table and its impr" tance to the life of a family. The table is a place for celebrations and baking the bread for the daily fare. It is where stories are shared about ancestors and current events. Babies were born on it, surgery brought healing there, and the dead were laid out on it. This table of life, our democracy, is being sold to the highest bidder. Our her- itage, our values that all are created equal, all have a right to life, liberty, and the suit of happiness -- rich and poor --- only be saved if we citizens make our vole" es heard in great numbers. Sister Joan Pytlik, DC, is the diocesan social action directm: She lobbies on behalf of the die cese on state and federal issues. ake a moment, and imagine that God is speaking directly to you. The following is an anonymous prayer I often use for this purpose. I hope it helps: "You do not have to be clever to please me; all you have to do is want to love me. "Just speak to me as you would to any- one of whom you are very fond. "Are there people you want to pray for? Say their names to me, and ask of me as much as you like. I am generous and know all their needs, but I want you to show your love for them and me by trusting me to do what I know is best. "Tell me about the poor, the sick and the sinners, and if you have lost the friendship or affection of anyone, tell me about it. qs there anything you want for your soul? If you like, you can write out a long list of all your needs, and come and read it to me. Tell me the things you feel guilty about. I will for- give you if you will accept my for- giveness. "Just tell me about your pride, your touchiness, self-centeredness, meanness and laz- iness. I still love you in spite of these. Do not be ashamed; there Fr. John G~x~r are many saints in heaven who had the same faults as you; they prayed to me, and little by little their faults were cor- rected. "Do not hesitate to ask me for bless- ings for the body and mind; for health, memory, success. I can give everything, and I always do give everything needed to make souls holier for those who truly want it. "What is it that you want today? Tell me, for I long to do you good. What are your plans? Tell me about them. Is there anyone you want to please? What do you want me to do for them? "And don't you want to do anything for me? Don't you want to do a little good to the souls of your friends who perhaps have forgotten me? "Tell me about your failures, and I will show you the cause of them. What are your worries? Who has caused you pain? Tell me all about it, and add that you will forgive and be kind to him or her, and I will bless you. "Are you afraid of anything? Have you any tormenting, unreasonable fears? Trust yourself to me. I am here. I see everything. I will not leave you. "Have you no joys to tell me abot Why do you not share your happine with me? Tell me what has happene since yesterday to cheer and comfort you. Whatever it was, however big, hoW ever small, I prepared it. Show me you, gratitude, and thank me. .. "Are temptations bearing heaVilY upon you? Yielding to temptation a,,. always disturbs the peace of your so ,. Ask me, and I will help you overcOnae them. or' ': "Well, go along now. Get on with work or play or other interests Try to quieter, humbler, more submissiqei kinder; and come back soon and britag me a more devoted heart TomorrOW shall have more blessings for you." ma on't you think you are being naively optimistic?" The ques- tion came to me as no sur- prise. I was a member of a TV panel pro- gram, one of several I have appeared on over the last few months. And it was not the first time I was struck by how many social commentators seem preoccupied with the "olame game" for everything that is wrong with America. I had just put in a good word for those who are making a positive difference in our society and our culture. Hence the wonder about my stance being "naively optimistic." I generally find myself in the minority in these discussions. Of course, there's noth- ing wrong with strong cautionary views. The mistake is to have nothing else, espe- cially when solid evidence suggests that we have great reason to be hopeful. There are countless individuals in public and private life who have opted to be doers and not merely complainers, people who are "for" something good and not just "against" some- thing bad. Good neighbors - and good Samaritans - are making a dif- ference in areas such as consumer protection, the en- vironment, health care, crime, drugs, poverty, educa- tion and more. And while a positive outlook r. rrml. may be unusual in some places, I am happy to say that on our nationally syndicated television series, "Christopher Closeup," we have many guests who recognize and celebrate the human face 9f the progress we are making. One, Paul Loeb, author of "Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in a Cynical Time," says, "To fail to realize the power of our actions is to reduce the potential of our soul. It's to diminish the spark that burns within us." I absolutely agree. If each one of us would only allow that spark to ignite the goodness, the courage, the holiness within our souls, we could create the kind of nation and neighborhood we all want to call home. Mark Shields, the well-known political analyst on CNN's Whe Capital Gang" and PBS's "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," talked with me about those people who go above and beyond. He said, for example, that "Because of the relentless negativism, the idea that everybody who works on the public payroll is some indifferent, sullen soul, it hit me that there are examples of just the opposite. For instance, Shannon Wright, the teacher from Jonesboro, [ who, when some students opened fire, [ tlat her own body to shield a tittle girl. An, Dave Sanders in Columbine, Colo., who! [ again, saved students at the cost of his I ! life. These are acts of enormous heroism' ! We dare not ignore the overwhelnai [ problems that threaten us, our homeS | our communities, much less those heart" | rending tragedies and mind-numbin | evils that are all too real. But self-inflictet d [ ignorance and aoathy are truly the way | - - - ,ae! cynicism and despair. On the contrary, ". , need to appreciate and act on our deep i beliefs, trusting in God's eternal visioO [ t_ rather than our too often, too shortsiglaV [ il ed point-of-view, ta [ Every day, every minute, men, wonae [ and young people are living out tlae [ faith, hope and love We can choose . join them. Orwe can choose to be naivelY pessimistic. &