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June, 2006

Spirit of the Revolution:
"What you did for the least of these, you did for me."

By Sandy Perry

These famous words of Jesus are for many of us the moral foundation of the movement to end poverty and homelessness in America. But they are more. Homelessness is not just a moral challenge. Just as it was for Jesus, homelessness today is a sign of the times. It is a mirror for discerning the innermost material and spiritual truth of our society.

Homelessness is the most extreme expression of a social destruction that is reaching into every corner of our world. The extraordinary productivity of modern technology is clashing violently with the old private property system. It is producing more and more boundless wealth with fewer and fewer jobs. As a result, millions of people are unemployed or underemployed. They are locked out of America's wealth as it accumulates in fewer and fewer hands.

The homeless today are a warning of the destitution that awaits the rest of us if we fail to act. As a survival strategy, it is no longer viable to compete for corporate investment and the dwindling number of jobs it offers. The time has come for the "total, direct, and immediate abolition of poverty" called for by Martin Luther King. This means a social movement to demand that the government allocate our social wealth to supply water, food, free health care, free education, and affordable housing to every person.

The success of this movement will depend on its unity and solidarity. When Jesus spoke, he did not restrict himself to the "working poor" or "legal immigrants". He explicitly included the homeless, the disabled, the stranger, and the prisoner. We dare not do less.

Sandy Perry is Outreach Director for Community Homeless Alliance Ministry in San Jose, California.

This article originated in the People's Tribune
PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654, 773-486-3551, info@peoplestribune.org.
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