So often we hear the words, “God bless America.” Many use these words to impart blessings on this nation when it is faced with challenges, threats of violence, acts of terrorism, or natural disasters that hit our homeland. I have grown up in America and it has been a great place to live. I love the freedoms we enjoy in this country and the opportunities that are afforded to anyone with a dream of becoming whatever they desire to become without limits. America is a wonderful place to live. It is one of the most prosperous nations in the world. Abundant monetary wealth and resources flow through it, unlike many impoverished countries that are still trying to rise up from the dark ages. America is a great place to be.
As an African American female who grew up in poverty, I remember the season my mother had to access the welfare system just to keep me, my sisters, and my brother together after our father left the home. She understood that she had to find a way to survive and keep her children comfortable and fed. I knew we did not have a lot of money, but what I also knew in my heart was that I lived in a house of love. We had a strong extended family that my siblings and I shared with weekly. There was not a week that went by when someone was not visiting or living in our home. I felt that it was a caring place where people loved to be.
Many family members knew of our financially disadvantaged situation. However, they found ways to encourage us and build our self-esteem by reminding us that we could grow up to become whatever we desired to be. They never made us feel bad about not having money or being on welfare. There was so much love. We lived in a time when families looked out for each other.
I remember the community I grew up in where people shared out of their meager resources. If my mother or grandmother knew of a family that probably had no food or clothes, they would cook for them or invite them over to eat. They bought clothes for the children even if they had to go to thrift stores. They would wash the clothes and take them over as if they were brand new. I saw appreciation on the faces of those parents and children. As a child, it always warmed my heart to see this kind of sharing in one community in an American city. There was a sort of healing that was experienced in those families. It was love in action. They always knew there was a house they could go to in the community where someone was sharing out of their limited resources.
In America today, there are many families in need. Many are trying to make ends meet as they are living well below the national poverty line. There are poor people in this country who do want more for their families. Many of them are working class people who go to their 9 to 5’s daily, still cannot make ends meet, and have to access the welfare system just to survive.
The national poverty line according to Health care.gov is as follows:
• $12,060 for individuals
• $16,240 for a family of 2
• $20,420 for a family of 3
• $24,600 for a family of 4
• $28,780 for a family of 5
• $32,960 for a family of 6
• $37,140 for a family of 7
• $41,320 for a family of 8
Without creating a daily budget to represent these families, observing these numbers based on household composition alone shows that in America’s current economy, many of these families are homeless or near homelessness – and they work every day. Something is wrong in a country that brags about its prosperity, military power, big government, technology, great institutions of higher learning, and great minds – yet it still has not figured out how to ensure that all of its citizens have a place to live, food to eat, safety, security, and are extended a hand-up so they can pursue their purpose and destiny.
Sociology was one of my college majors. One area I studied was Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy Needs: physiological needs, safety needs, belonging and love needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization needs. I believe if we still look at this hierarchy, we will see that many of the people living in poverty are not able to move beyond the first level. It is a struggle for people to find purpose and destiny when they are hungry, they don’t feel safe, and no one is encouraging them to do or be more. Who can actualize when they are hungry and cannot even see clearly how to get out of poverty? People are not really looking for a hand out; they want a hand up. The gifted and well-known artist, James Brown, has a song that says, ‘I Don’t Want Nobody To Give Me Nothing.’ The lyrics spoke his sentiments to America; ‘Just open the doors and I will make my own way.’ People really want to do for themselves, but they are deprived of the opportunities to do so.
America must realize that people in poverty just want an open door – an opportunity to actualize the dreams in their hearts and souls. It is time for America to develop a productive plan to move people forward and into better lives. The greed, the pride, the arrogance, the violence, and the economic disparity in our country must be healed. There needs to be a positive plan that works for the poor in this country. God did bless America. But what has been done with those blessings?
America was founded upon a mandate from God to follow Christ and be an example of the believer for the whole world to see. God blessed America with prosperity, but what has been done with that prosperity? I’ll tell you what was done with it. Resources, influence, and wealth were used to enslave human beings who were created in the image of God, for which America has yet to repent of. The indigenous people of this land were tricked and cast aside on reservations to keep them under control. Wars were created for the cause of greed and not for national safely. The blood of the innocent was shed. Young men and women of color were wrongfully imprisoned in the prime and strength of their youth. Rivers, lakes, and streams were poisoned to wipe out neighborhoods and people groups. Policing systems were corrupted to cut down our youth in the streets. Nation groups were discriminated against because of their ethnicity when America was charged to love all. Our nation’s government is corrupt and her policies are created in the special interest of the rich.
The cry of the poor and the innocent has come to the ears of heaven and God will answer their cry. It is time for America to heal and live out her pledge; “One Nation, Under God, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All.” Are you true to your pledge, America? No, you are not. You practice national prejudice. You create division rather than unity. You tolerate injustice and corruption in the legal system. America needs to be healed because her whole heart is sick.
America, I implore you, let your soul be healed and let that healing run like water into the streets. The cry of the poor and the needy has now come up before the True and Living God and the Lord will answer their cry!
From this day forward, I issue a new cry: “God Heal America.” ~ Peace