Community and the Lack of it are not Abstractions

We are meditating on Community, the common good, justice, the “beloved community.” 

Community is not an abstraction, just as an empty refrigerator or being expelled from one’s home because one cannot pay the rent are not abstractions.  Community is about mutual interaction, mutual caring and laws that bring about justice and the common good.  How are things going? Here are the latest figures from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities:

“Protest Over Evictions Due To COVID-19 and Lockdown” Photo by Tim Dennell
on Flickr.

Today, in America, 23 million adults or 10.5% of the population, report that their households do not have enough food.

Today, in America, 25% of renters are behind in their rent.

Today, in America, 7 to 11 million children lacked enough food in the month of August.

Due to COVID 19, 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment.

At the same time that COVID 19 has wreaked havoc in many households, not all have been suffering.  Among the richest class, their wealth expanded by $637 billion dollars in the same period.  That strikes me as a lot of money—for the people who need it the least. 

“Portland protesting Wall street” Photo by Omygodtom on Flickr

As for the “tax reform” bill of 2017, not many politicians who passed it seem to be crowing about it at this election time.  I wonder why not. 

Consider these facts, from the new book The Triumph of Injustice: How the Rich Dodge Taxes and How to Make Them Pay: In the 1960’s, the richest Americans paid an average of 60% on taxes and the poorest 50% of Americans paid about 20%.  Today, after the most recent “tax reform,” the richest in America are paying 23% on taxes; and the poorest 50% of Americans are paying 24.2%. 

Tax March, San Francisco on April 15, 2017. Photo by Fabrice Florin on Flickr

In other words, the poorest 50% in America are paying more taxes proportionately than the very richest.

Might this discrepancy have something to do with our failing schools and infrastructure and rising debt and lack of health care for everyone who has a body?

This is not community.  It is not just and it is not about the common good. 

But the story is not only about taxes people pay.  It is about who is powerful enough to get the attention of politicians, law makers, and judges to have their voices heard and the laws they want enacted.  It is about government of the few, by the few, and for the few, community be damned.

If the World were a Village of 100 People (2019 Edition). Uploaded to YouTube by One With Life – Meditation Mindfulness Fulfillment

Speaking of community, consider the global context that forms the matrix for our species today.

If you imagine the human population of the Earth as a village of 100 people, according to one calculation, it would look something like this:

8 are North Americans, 61 Asians, 13 Africans, 12 Europeans, 5 South Americans & the Caribbean
89 heterosexual, 11 homosexual
70 non-white, 30 white
50 would be malnourished, 20 would be undernourished (1 would be dying of starvation)
12 are unable to read; 1 has a college degree
12 own a computer; 8 have an internet connection

Water Scarcity a Problem at IDP Camps in North Darfur, 2014 Photo by United Nations on Flickr

43 live without basic sanitation; 20 have no clean, safe water to drink
80 live in substandard housing
32 breathe polluted air
6 people own 59% of the world’s wealth (all from the U.S.);
74 people own 39%; 20 people share the remaining 2%
21 people live on $1.25 (US) per day or less

If there is food in your refrigerator, if you have shoes and clothes, a bed and a roof, you are richer than 75 percent of the people in the world.

If you have a bank account and money in your wallet, you belong to the eight percent of the people in the world who are well-to-do.

The struggle for community goes on.

See: Matthew Fox, Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth

Also Matthew Fox, A Spirituality Named Compassion.

Also Matthew Fox, The A.W.E. Project: Reinventing Education, Reinventing the Human, p. 135


Updated “Earth as a Village” statistics from

Banner Image: “World Community” Image by Anja?#helpinghands #solidarity#stays healthy? from Pixabay

Meditate on these economic realities.  What does it mean to ordinary people you know, yourself included, that the richest Americans used to pay 60% in taxes and now pay less percentage-wise than secretaries and grocery clerks?  Is this sustainable?

Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth

Fox’s spirituality weds the healing and liberation found in North American Creation Spirituality and in South American Liberation Theology. Creation Spirituality challenges readers of every religious and political persuasion to unite in a new vision through which we learn to honor the earth and the people who inhabit it as the gift of a good and just Creator.
“A watershed theological work that offers a common ground for religious seekers and activists of all stripes.” — Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.

The A.W.E. Project: Reinventing Education, Reinventing the Human

The A.W.E. Project reminds us that awe is the appropriate response to the unfathomable wonder that is creation… A.W.E. is also the acronym for Fox’s proposed style of learning – an approach to balance the three R’s. This approach to learning, eldering, and mentoring is intelligent enough to honor the teachings of the Ancestors, to nurture Wisdom in addition to imparting knowledge, and to Educate through Fox’s 10 C’s. The 10 C’s are the core of the A.W.E. philosophy and process of education, and include: compassion, contemplation, and creativity. The A.W.E. Project does for the vast subject of “learning” what Fox’s Reinvention of Work did for vocation and Original Blessing did for theology. Included in the book is a dvd of the 10 C’s put to 10 video raps created and performed by Professor Pitt.
An awe-based vision of educational renewal.Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.

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3 thoughts on “Community and the Lack of it are not Abstractions”

  1. Avatar

    So much reform is needed, it seems like a staggering task. Reality does speak for itself though, and a good sincere look at what IS the current condition sets the stage for rebalancing the scales of justice. Your clear uncompromising voice Is paving the way for change. Thank-you.

  2. Avatar

    Community and the Lack of it are not Abstractions
    As I read this it brought back memories of what life was like when I was 13 and Ike was president. The tax rate for anyone making $200,000.00 (today $1,922,000.00) or more was 91% As I remember it we had far less worries and much more community. Our interstate highways, international airports and other projects were built and mostly paid for. Unemployment stood at 3.6%. How about you? Is your life as good today as mine was in 1956. Remember that denial is not a river in Egypt!
    Queries for Contemplation
    Meditate on these economic realities. What does it mean to ordinary people you know, yourself included, that the richest Americans used to pay 60% in taxes and now pay less percentage-wise than secretaries and grocery clerks? | It means that life for the average joe has disintegrated compared to what it was when I was 13 | Is this sustainable? | It is as long as there is no justice. It is as long as I don’t do anything about it but complain. Mostly, the rich have proven they are to take whatever we allow. Why won’t we believe them?

    1. Richard E Reich

      Chuck, A few comments on your comments…
      What does it mean to ordinary people that the richest Americans, who used to pay 60% in taxes, now pay even far less then that? Answer: It means that we are being are ripping off, and whether it is sustainable or not, it is just plain wrong, and definitely unjust!
      And you are right, the rich have proven that they will take whatever we allow, so the question is, how long will we let them?

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