027: MLK, Tzedakah, and Injustice in America
The messages of the civil rights movement of economic and social justice are needed now as we enter fascism and a new robber-baron era. The inequality, rhetoric, and attacks on Jews, Muslims, blacks, and trans women escalate as economic woes worsen; fascism and its markers are always tied to money and economic injustice.
Rev. King knew this, and it made him a threat to the ruling class. The prophet Amos knew this, too, and condemned Israel should its elite continue their pious rituals while ignoring the sick and poor as we are in America now.
44% of Americans live in poverty. Homeless camps spread weekly in Los Angeles and cities everywhere. Meanwhile the power that is the church fawns over Trump as he makes the rich richer and gloats about it while people can’t afford insulin or even lunch.
In Judaism we are taught tzedakah. Some mistranslate this as charity, but it is Justice. Justice must be built into the foundation of any culture, government, and system. “Charity” is an invention of capitalism and is a stop-gap to ease issues caused by a feudal system. While it’s vital, it is a band-aid on a dam about to burst. The rich today, like in the time of Amos, aren’t giving away their fortunes proportionately. We must take action to ensure they do.
Vote every time. Help others vote. Volunteer. Speak up even when it’s uncomfortable. Call and hound your reps. Hound the billionaires and corporations hoarding wealth and causing death, suffering, and climate chaos. Organize marches and protests. And do what you can to protect and elevate the poor, sick, at-risk, and groups that have already been forgotten or flat-out targeted. That means speaking against or standing between those who blame the poor for poverty, blame black and brown people for anything at all, or think that any human life whatsoever is expendable, less than, or unworthy.