And who is this Jesus?
Walking to the East End Fest recently, I had to run the usual gauntlet of screaming, so-called "Christians," trying to propagate their views. This time, they had added a red circle with a slash with the word "Homo" in it.
When I was younger, I learned of a Jesus who preached love for all, for despised people like lepers, prostitutes, and tax collectors, even the Roman occupiers. Has that Jesus once again been replaced by the fictitious Jesus of the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the Salem Witch Trials?
Where are the followers of the other Jesus, the gentle man who preached love for all? Will anyone speak out against these purveyors of hatred, or will we sit back, like so many good people did in World War II Germany --- and even in this country, when we refused to accept refugees from the Holocaust?
How long will it be until the paramilitary brigades that the churches presented to us in the Memorial Day Parade are going after gays or any other minority that they dislike? And how long will it be before the word in the circle changes..... maybe to "Jews" or "Blacks" or "Catholics"? Think of the Rev. Martin Niemoller's famous line: "Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out."
Richard A. Hoppe, Greenaway Road, Brighton
Recently the administration of the Monroe County Department of Human Services decided to take away the cell phones of casework supervisors --- removing a safety net for caseworkers who need assistance when in the community, dealing with potentially explosive situations. Commissioner Patricia Stevens stated that this cost-cutting measure was in line with accountability to the taxpayers.
There have been other cost-cutting measures. Caseworkers have labored for years without a contract and with threats of losing health benefits. Two caseworkers often share an office meant for one. A telling sign posted at MCDHS says: "Lost ... morale."
The poor of our community who apply for temporary assistance struggle to negotiate a system from which they should be receiving help --- but which sets more and more barriers and expectations that even caseworkers barely understand. The goal of cutting costs is deeply reflected in the poor being denied assistance in steadily increasing numbers. "Walk-in hours" for clients were eliminated, making it difficult for clients without an appointment to access assistance. Client advocates have been prohibited from handing out welfare-rights brochures at MCDHS.
At the same time, administrative positions have been added, creating more bureaucratic layers. White rocks grace the entrance to the building. The sixth floor, where administrative offices are located, has been renovated. A large metal plaque with the county seal and agency name now graces the wall opposite the elevators.
A plush new "designer" carpet has been installed, leading directly from the elevator to the left, into the executive suite. A right turn takes one onto the worn gray carpet squares that have graced the halls for years and which lead to caseworker offices. The demarcation between the carpets is dramatic and symbolic. Just who is accountable to the taxpayers?
Lynda Howland, Pittsford
AT THE PROTEST
Like metal filings to a magnet, we swarmed to church that day. This was the rain location, announced that morning, for the "In This Together" rally to protest President Bush's proposal regarding Social Security. The rally also unearthed deep-seated discontent with many of President Bush's existing policies. In fact, one of the most electric signs was that of a high-school girl who reminded the president that "War Is so 20th Century."
We came from our jobs, our job hunting, our classrooms, from Rochester, suburbia, Buffalo, Syracuse, and Ithaca to voice an answer to the choreographed, canned response to the president's visit to the area earlier that day.
We came to church to celebrate the Mass for Democracy. But the church could not contain us all, so many of us gathered on the corner and held our concurrent service, which included the holding up of home-made signs and the "amens" of the honking horns passing through the intersection. Babies cocooned in strollers and the elderly leaning on walkers, police in orange raincoats and men in suits, the curious and the impassioned were there.
The day turned brighter in honor of the holiness of our cause, so when the speeches were completed, when the last "amen" was honked by a passing motorist, when arms were getting weary from holding up our messages, we remembered the originally announced site of our rally --- the appropriately named Liberty Pole --- only a few blocks away through downtown Rochester.
A hard-core faction of us began walking toward that open-air gathering place. Workers on smoke breaks read our signs as we passed. When we got to the Liberty Pole, we looked down the street and were heartened to see many more of us coming to join the rally. Motorists, pedestrians, city bus riders, including high-school kids at the end of their school day: All were greeted by us. Some tried to ignore us and continue along their way. Many greeted us warmly or joined us.
On the walk back to our car, my red, white, and blue sign admonishing President Bush to "Keep Social Security Secure" blew out of my hands and down the street. I made a perfunctory attempt to retrieve it but let it go --- carrying its message to wherever the wind took it.
Ed Scutt, MacIntosh Drive, Greece
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