Steven L. Shields
I am voting for the Democratic Party candidates in the election this fall. My prayerful and considered reading of the gospel of Jesus Christ and my faith compel me. Many believe the United States was founded on Christian principles. Indeed, the morals and ethics of the founders were informed by the faith heritage of England at the time of the Enlightenment.
The four gospels in the New Testament of the Bible are straightforward in their descriptions of Jesus and what he taught. He rejected the exclusive and rigid nature of religious fundamentalists. Jesus opposed the powerful and championed the poor. He healed the sick. He fed thousands of people freely. Women were treated as equals. He condemned the hoarding of wealth and was against violence. He was a progressive activist for the common good.
Thus, as an American and a Christian, I believe that in the United States, the following are fundamental, non-negotiable values.
Refugees and immigrants should be wholeheartedly welcomed. Immigrants to what is now the United States left their home countries to escape persecution and to find opportunities for growth, economic or otherwise. They went to the U.S. hoping for a better life. The U.S. needs immigration policies that welcome all.
All people deserve access to affordable healthcare. Healthcare should not be in the realm of a profit-making enterprise. Affordable healthcare is a fundamental human right. This need has become more obvious during the COVID-19 crisis. The longer-term problem is clear in unusually high costs for the urgent treatment of life-threatening conditions.
Women should have autonomy over their bodies. I don't care what your beliefs are about abortion. You have no right to impose your beliefs on everyone. Especially if you are a man. I have been interested in watching the anti-abortion crowd in the U.S. now fighting for the right not to wear masks. "My body, my right," they say. Well, that's what millions of women have been saying for a long time about reproductive health.
Every ethnicity and gender and orientation deserves respect. Jesus taught respect for everyone ―love your neighbor. Leave them alone to deal with their business. Everyone is different. Everyone deals with their emotions, their fears, their hopes and their dreams. Let's find ways to celebrate what we do share in common, and revel in that which is unique from our perspective.
Mass imprisonment and the death penalty are not pro-life. With thousands of children from south of the U.S.-Mexico border in concentration camps in the U.S., I find it challenging to listen to the "pro-life" people's arguments against abortion. If you are pro-life, release all those "brown" children! Too many people are in prison in the U.S., at a percentage higher than other democratic nations. I hope the U.S. will join other civilized nations and get real prison reform, get private contractors out of the prison-industrial profit-making complex and renounce the death penalty. Those who argue for "justice" are confusing it with "vengeance."
The planet and atmosphere are our responsibility to care for. In Genesis in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), God commanded Adam and Eve to "multiply and replenish the earth." We only have one planet. Earth is our home. Since the Industrial Revolution swept the world beginning about 150 years ago or so, more and more people have been disconnected from the soil. In our quest to gain "things," we've forgotten to replenish the Earth. Hopefully, it's not too late.
All faith traditions are equally beautiful and valid. I began to learn this when I first came to Korea 45 years ago. I was confronted with shamanism and Buddhism for the first time. I still have much to learn, but since my first time in Korea, I've been blessed to travel and work with people in many different lands and cultures. I've talked with Hindu priests, Daoist monks, atheists and agnostics. My faith, my beliefs, my way of worshiping or not, is my choice. When I began to understand that principle, I saw the world in a new light.
Poverty and hunger are unacceptable. In a country such as mine, so wealthy, so plentiful, there should be none of this. Governments can play an essential and influential role in wiping out these problems because of the vast pooled resources they control. Individually, I can only do so much, but collectively, we have so much power.
God is not a white Republican man. My faith compels me to vote Democratic.
Steven L. Shields (firstname.lastname@example.org) has lived in Korea for many years, beginning in the 1970s. He served as copy editor of The Korea Times in 1977. He is a retired clergyman and vice president of the Royal Asiatic Society Korea.