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Lessons from Nuns on the Bus
I recently had the opportunity to spend the day with the Nuns on the Bus caravan as we toured inner-city agencies working with Rochester's poor, homeless, and hungry. This was part of a nationwide effort by many orders of nuns to shine a bright light on issues of poverty in this country, on the policies that promulgate poverty, and the need for our communities to become involved in the resolution of suffering of those less fortunate.
As I traveled with the Sisters of St. Joseph, Sisters of Mercy, and the School Sisters of Notre Dame, we heard the stories of homeless children, children murdered on the streets of Rochester, and children without enough food to eat. We met adults who depend on food pantries, food kitchens, and shelters. And we met many volunteers who dedicate their lives to making life bearable for the 57 percent of Rochester's children living in poverty and the 25 percent of Rochester's adults dependent on these services.
I was strangely uplifted and encouraged by the positive attitude of all these nuns who have dedicated their lives to the impoverished. It is a strange juxtaposition from the image of nuns swatting our knuckles with rulers to see these women holding the hands of those in need.
It was pointed out that today's political climate is a dangerous environment for our population living in poverty, with no one speaking for them in the halls of Congress. No candidates speak to the need to return to the War on Poverty to save lives. Instead, we speak of war in the Middle East.
Our Republican colleagues openly speak of cutting programs that aid the poor, that educate this population and give them access to health care. They speak as if the entire population of the unfortunate would rather take handouts than take care of themselves and their families. They speak as if we have no responsibility for our neighbors.
The Democrats talk and have not done enough. They speak of programs to improve nutrition, education, and social structure, but little has changed.
The Nuns on the Bus have taught me that poverty is a crime. The criminals are our politicians, and we aide and abet this criminal activity. It is our responsibility as citizens to support the needs of everyone in this country and not let a single child go to waste. These are our children. And now I consider these Nuns my Sisters.
Every four years I hear the cry for reform in our government, but I hear the cry of the homeless and the defenseless every day. Elections come and go; we get excited and then we get tired. It is time to hold our elected officials to their promise to make life better for everyone of us. Too many of our children don't have time for us to wait.
JOHN L. GHERTNER, SODUS
Lies and politics
Mary Anna Towler laments the "ugliest campaign" she can remember, claiming that Mitt Romney lied ("The Next Four Years," Urban Journal). I don't remember any lies he told, but for the sake of argument, let's assume he did. Conveniently left out of Towler's piece was Senator Harry Reid – I'm sure under orders from Obama – calling Romney a tax cheat.
Maybe in Ms. Towler's archives is the political promo where a laid-off worker claimed that his wife died because of Romney's business policies. And of course there's Obama's campaign head charging that "Romney is a felon." Now that is ugly.
Towler quotes Eugene Robinson saying Republicans talked about "taking the country back." That has nothing to do with race, color, or origin. It has to do with ideology.
Conservatives want to take the country back from the liberals. Starting in 2001, Democrats said the same thing regarding President George Bush; they wanted to take the country back from Republicans.
We can now look forward to four more years of being Obama-sized.
SAM PALERMO, ROCHESTER
The overriding problem
Regarding your "Next Four Years" column, you note the disunity of the electorate and the population and hope that the president can be a unifier.
I don't think it's impertinent to mention that Orwell's "1984" proposes that the national unity you seem to want requires an outside enemy. If I'm not mistaken, a number of our leading politicians are engaged in a search for that entity. Should we encourage them? I think not.
STEPHEN LEWANDOWSKI, CANANDAIGUA