Monday, September 12, 2011

There is a Spring in our Step

What follows is a Prayer by Rev. Clete Kiley offered at the Alliance for Retired Americans Legislative Conference last week in Washington, D.C..

"Next Sunday will mark 10 years since the terrible of events that occurred in New York, in Washington at the Pentagon and at Shanksville, Pa. We remember union members and first responders who were there for the recovery and for the rebuilding. We remember union members lost that terrible day along with other friends - almost 3,00 that day. WE remember also our Service members who have lost their lives since that day in the ongoing war on terror. Let us pause for a moment of silence to remember. To remember is to hold them in life again.

Let us pray.

“ O God, you have taught me from my youth, and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds; And now that I am old and gray, O God, forsake me not till I proclaim your strength to every generation that is to come .”
Ps. 71: 17-19

Lord, the words of the Psalmist capture well our spirit here today. We may be old and we may be gray, or, if not gray, we probably have a good hair stylist.  But we have not forgotten where we come from. We recognize the hand of your providence in our lives. Since we were young you have done great things. Some of us here are from that group they called “The Greatest Generation”; some of us are the leading edge of that group they call “The Baby Boomers”- what wonderful things we have seen in our lives!

In our youth some of us tasted the bitter harvest of the great depression.  Even later some of us watched our own mothers and fathers go to work in poor paying jobs, risking their lives each day in unsafe work places. But we also grew up imbued with our parents’ and grandparents’ faith in You and their belief in this country. At our kitchen tables we learned first-hand the meaning of courage and sacrifice. We learned the value of solidarity and standing together. With Your vision as a guide they taught us to take up our role making this country strong, with plentiful work, and decent wages and safe working conditions- a true economic democracy. From our youth and now in our senior years we remain committed to this task. Our work isn’t finished yet-not till we proclaim these values to every generation that is to come.

We can see that those coming behind us are going to need Your strength, Lord. There are dark forces at work today here in this country. Forces that do not remember You nor where they came from. They think democracy is about getting luxuries for an elite few rather than insuring the necessities for the many. They think it is somehow patriotic to move American jobs overseas. They think unbridled, unregulated business is the way to the new Promised Land. But, we know it is the path to hell for too many.

These folks have forsaken the American Dream, forsaken their promise to us seniors, and forsaken the faith and the sense of community You and our parents imbued in us.
It is bad enough they have forsaken us and want to mess around with our pensions.
It is bad enough they have forsaken us and want to cut Social Security and Medicare.
It is bad enough they have forsaken us and want to suppress our voting rights with these voter I.D. schemes.

But now we see them dashing the hope of those coming after us. And that is the last straw! They want to strip them of their right to collectively bargain. They want to break our unions. They want to suppress the voice of working people in the national discourse. They want to fix the economic damage caused by billionaires by blaming and then crushing the middle class. They don’t want the flourishing economic democracy we built, but rather a land of privilege for a few served by whoever they can get at the cheapest rate. They don’t care in their board rooms that their products are made by forced labor, or indentured servants, or by children as long as the profits are high. These forces have forsaken us; they have forsaken our country; they have forsaken our dream, and they have forsaken You, Lord.
But You will not forsake us, Lord. Nor will we forsake You. We Retired Americans through our Alliance have a job to do. We need to keep the Dream of the American Democracy alive. We built this democracy. We fought to defend it. It is our’s. And it is not for sale. We will keep it alive for the generations to come. We will teach them that labor unions are not the cause of economic woes, but rather the guarantors of safety in the workplace, a living wage, and the week-end. We will pass on to the generations to come that same hope and confidence, that same faith and sense of sacrifice and community that we received from the generations before us.

Lord, we may be old and we may be gray, but there is a spring in our step, and a passion in our hearts. Together here we commit to You that we will proclaim these values to every generation yet to come. Just give us the strength. Amen."

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