The Rantings of a Frustrated Activist Pt. 1 (Crystal Busenbark)

4

April 3, 2009 by Gsmith

Crystal Busenbark is an observant Latter-Day Saint and a serious activist for peace, equality and social justice.

This inspirational article first appeared on the facebook social networking site and was reprinted with her permission.

Over the past few weeks, months and even years I have watched as my friends and I have been ridiculed, made fun of and personally attacked because of our beliefs, our activism and our determination to make the world a more peaceful and just place for us all to live in. After a few very brutal and completely uncalled for personal attacks that have come my way this week, I have decided to write up this response.

First off I am going to talk about Christianity and Mormonism. I think it’s very convenient how people pick and choose when they are going to be religious, which commandments they are going to keep and in which aspects of their life’s they are going to follow said commandments. The Lord told his saints to “renounce war and proclaim peace” (D&C 98:16). The Lord has given us much guidance when it comes to such matters as war and retaliation towards our enemies: “Blessed be the peacemakers,for they will be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9), “Turn from evil; do good; seek peace; pursue it” (1 Peter 3:11),” Do not return evil for evil”l (1 Peter 3:8), “Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness” (James 3:18), “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. “(2 Corinthians 10:3), “Love your enemies; bless those who persecute you” (Luke 6:27). I mean there are countless others scriptures that repeat these same teachings over and over again. But yet when we feel threatened, when we feel that our comfortable and over indulged American way of life is at risk in any way all these scriptures are thrown out the window. We conveniently forget that we’re all brothers and sisters.We justify the killing, torturing and abuse of the Lords children because they are no longer our brothers and sisters, they are now our enemies. Christ knew that there were things worth dieing for. The very teachings of the cross are those of sacrifice, loving our enemies “Forgive them father for they know not what they do”, and for responding to violence in a non-violent way. Most of us reading this agree that when we die and leave this world it will not be the end so why are we so why are we willing to sell our souls, dirty our spirits and give up everything we say we hold true just to protect what we have here in this temporal state?
Selfishness. “It’s not my responsibility to take care of those people with my tax dollars”. I have heard this more times than I can count. “Let’s take care of our people first”, really, who’s our people? Universal health care, guaranteed jobs, food stamps, medicaid, foreign aid……”I have my own family to take care of, those people need to take care of themselves”. This is another instance where you will see Christians conveniently abandon the teachings of Christ and Mormon’s have no problem brushing off their church’s doctrine. “Jesus answered, If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor,and you will have treasure in heaven.'” Matthew 19:21, “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.” Luke 12:33,”When Jesus heard this, he said to him, You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.'” Luke18:22, and my personal favorite, “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him,how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:17-18. According to Heavenly Father it is your responsibility. You have houses, cars, access to food, clean water and education and your not willing to pay some extra taxes to help others that have nothing? I don’t know about you but that doesn’t seem very Christ like to me. I think my friend William Van Wagenen said it best in his article “An Introduction to Mormon Anarchism”,
“In one of the most significant sermons in the Book of Mormon, King Benjamin preaches about the atonement of Jesus Christ and what is necessary to receive forgiveness for sin. He describes us all as “beggars” who depend on God for all that we have, including the breath that sustains our life (Mosiah 4:19, 2:21). He describes the hypocrisy of begging Christ for forgiveness for sin, while at the same time refusing to give to the beggar who asks us for food, money or other assistance. To walk blameless before God, Benjamin explains, “I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.” If we seek to please God, we “will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to [us] in vain, and turn him out to perish (Mosiah 4:14 -29).” Benjamin is harshly critical of those who refuse to assist others, and who justify this by saying, “the man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just (Mosiah 4:17).” It is interesting to note here that assistance for the poor is to be given according to need, not according to merit. The question of whether someone deserves help is rendered irrelevant. Keeping or using resources that others need to simply survive is contrary to the most fundamental teachings of Mormonism, namely having love and charity for God’s children, who in fact are our brothers and sisters.”
When I hear Christians say things such as “illegal aliens” or “country first” I cringe inside. There are no “illegal aliens” and country’s are a man made concoctions. We are all children of God and we are all equal regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender. It is our greatest responsibility as Christians to proclaim peace, care for the poor and destitute and love our fellow man, even when it’s inconvenient! I welcome any comments or thoughts that you might have on these subjects 🙂
Future Rantings: Believe it or not war is not the only option! Genocide can be stopped and it’s not a waste of time. Working for peace and justice is not a joke and more…..

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4 thoughts on “The Rantings of a Frustrated Activist Pt. 1 (Crystal Busenbark)

  1. J. Madson says:

    thanks gregoire for posting this and thanks crystal.

  2. Thanks so much Crystal!

    I have to say when you touched on taking care of our neighbor and how so many Christians and Mormons turn up their noses to the idea I automatically heard the words of so many friends and family I have discussed this with. They say (among other things) when we have such programs big gov’t is taking away our agency to choose to help those in need. They say “let the charities handle it!” but what I hear is “let them eat cake”. I don’t understand how we as a people can tout agency when it comes to caring for the poor but can get behind laws and propositions that limit the choices of Americans. Maybe it all comes down to them being “other Americans” so we feel WE have nothing to worry about? I don’t know. I just can’t stand this lack of responsibility and how it is touted as gospel truth.

    In my mind we are behind the gov’t. We exercise our agency in helping others whenever we support or appose programs of aid. Our agency hasn’t been taken from us but so many equate money with both agency and freedom these days. When we as the people of this country decide to neglect others by denying them basic human rights we will be judged for it. How could we not be? We have the opportunity to care for so many yet we forfeit that in order to keep more of “our” money and maybe give a bit to charity (which a lot of Mormons consider their tithing dollars and nothing more). I can’t even begin to address the idiocy behind this. Can charities really feed ALL of the hungry, house ALL of the homeless, and more importantly provide medical care for the millions of us who can’t afford it? Charities are meant as a supplemental aid to society not it’s crutch. Gov’t is meant to keep the people. Not to give them every little thing their hearts desires or to dictate their personal rights but to insure we all have our basic needs and rights and that. is. it. But when people are in need on a grand scale we can so easily turn away. Something bothers me about this “leave it up to the charities” mindset- when so many out there look down their noses at their neighbors in need do we really expect them to willingly help them? I keep hearing “if I didn’t have to pay taxes I’d give more to charity” often bunched in with a rant about all those weasels on welfare who need to just get a job. Huh. Excuse me for having my doubts about biased charity.

    Funny how we can do all of the above for our corporate brothers and their organizations but when it comes to a family unable to feed their children due to job loss it’s all their fault and they need to just deal with it. When it comes to not having medical insurance well that’s just too bad for you and your cancer. I’ve heard bake sales can help with all that, though.

    -Maggie

  3. Grégoire says:

    Dear Maggie Frances,

    They say (among other things) when we have such programs big gov’t is taking away our agency to choose to help those in need. They say “let the charities handle it!” but what I hear is “let them eat cake”.

    This is such a great response.

    It’s important to realize that social programs are not “charity”. Capitalist society is structured so that a huge amount of the wealth you actually create is stolen from you, before you ever see it. Corporate shareholders and their executives siphon all this money — your money — off the top without you realizing it.

    Graduated income taxes on the wealthy simply take a small percentage of this stolen wealth, and return it to “the least of these, our brothers” who need a helping hand. The people who receive things like food stamps and housing subsidies are merely getting back what they and their families have already earned.

    Karl Marx called this stolen wealth *surplus value*. I think Jesus would have been in favor of workers getting to keep and use their surplus value, rather than having it taken to support people who don’t produce anything of value, and simply ride the coattails of the rest of us. Of course I can’t speak for Jesus, and that’s just my opinion.

    Best,

    G

  4. Joseph says:

    Thank you Crystal. I’ve been through a lot this week and your comments were both comforting and stengthening. I tend to lean towards anarcho-socialism personally, so government and taxes are a poor substitute for the real solutions that are needed. But they are something, and it is mind-numbing that so many who are blessed by the infrastructure that taxes and government provide have the nerve to complain about them.

    Ultimately I really admire people like you who are really out there working at fixing things. I mostly feel like an armchair radical and I am very grateful for those of you who actually do something!

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