MORAL MONDAY: Income Disparity

  • Kindness

A History of “Moral Mondays”

By Virginia Kirsch

Republicans in North Carolina have steadily been defunding public education, health-care and unemployment benefits. They also have restricted voting rights and abortion service. In 2013 Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II said “Enough!”

Rev. Barber called for people to gather at the State House in Raleigh, North Carolina and established Moral Mondays to draw attention to these moral issues. As many as 100,000 people came.  The Moral Monday Movement has grown into a statewide progressive coalition. The movement has spread to South Carolina and Georgia.

The parallels between North Carolina and Wisconsin are easily seen. For that reason Rev. Barber came to Madison, Wisconsin on March 13, 2014. He talked about “the People’s Moral Agenda: Anti-Racism, Anti-Poverty, Pro-Labor.”

We welcome Rev. Barber, one of the great civil rights leaders of our time to Wisconsin. Moral Mondays seek to identify interconnected social and moral issues and the movements and organizations carrying these causes forward. Gatherings are nonviolent, respectful, faith-based and of many coalitions. Rev. Barber says “Justice is what love looks like in public.”

“Moral Mondays” is a new feature of MWCN News. Each Monday, a writer will speak to a moral issue of the week, including steps that can be taken by the reader.  Stay tuned.

Moral Monday in the Northwoods

By Joyce Luedke

Over the past 60 years, I have heard many pastors preach sermons on John 6:1-15, “Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand.”  A crowd followed Jesus to the shore of Galilee because of the miracles he performed on the sick. Knowing the people would be hungry, both spiritually and physically, Jesus posed the question to his disciples: “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?”  Discussion among the disciples ensued. Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, found a boy who would share his five small barley loaves and two small fishes. The disciples were skeptical:  How can so little feed so many?

Jesus took the five loaves, gave thanks, and passed the bread to the crowds–five thousand were men.  Women and children were also in the crowd, but they were not counted.  Jesus took the two small fishes and did the same. As the baskets were passed around, each person took what he or she needed. Amazingly, twelve baskets filled with pieces of the barley loaves were leftover.

When I was growing up in a small rural community in far northern Wisconsin, I did not see income disparity.  Most of the women were the farmers, and the men worked in the two larger cities just to the west.   The story of feeding five thousand resonated with me because I saw in my community the sharing and caring for each other.  Most of us had enough, and we shared with those who needed a helping hand.

Recently, my pastor spoke on John 6:1-15.  As I listened again to one of my favorite Bible stories, I was struck by how my world view has been changed by what I know about ever increasing income disparity.

Let’s re-imagine the scene today.  Just 85 of the richest people in the crowd take as much bread and fish (wealth) as the 3.5 billion poorest. The wealth of the one percent is $110 trillion.  In the US, 95% of the income gains since 2009 went to just 1% of the population. The bottom 90% became poorer.

Income disparity, not only in the US but throughout the world, is one of the great moral issues of our time.