Fear of the Fiscal Cliff

Fear of plummeting over the "fiscal cliff" is driving the political discourse in Washington right now. The conversation, however, needs to be framed not as a political or economic issue, but as a moral issue. The question should not be what group's particular interests are advanced, but rather as an issue about the common good.

Global economic, social and political systems have brought about a greater concentration of wealth. This has resulted in a lower standard of living and growing lack of opportunity. Since 1976, hourly wages have declined by 7 percent while the share of total income going to the top 1 percent of earners rose from 9 percent to 23.5 percent. Think about that for a moment. One percent now holds almost one quarter of all income.

Too many people struggle to provide for their families, have been cheated and abused by financial institutions, and ache under a burden of debt, unemployment and fading hope. This isn't about numbers; this is about human dignity and hope. Our system is broken, but it can be fixed. But we need to let our greatest hopes and aspirations steer this debate instead of our greed and fear.

Unitarian Universalists believe in the inherent worth of every person, strive for justice, equity and compassion in our relationships, and work for social policies that reflect our moral values.

As President of the Unitarian Universalist Association, I call upon our elected political leaders to let the common good, not the interests of the powerful, guide you toward reaching an agreement. I call upon you to stand up for those most marginalized in our society.

Unitarian Universalists across the country are joining with other faith communities to ask Congress for a just and compassionate federal budget. The Unitarian Universalist Association has joined with other religious organizations, including Christians, Muslims and Jews, in calling on our nation's lawmakers to enact a "faithful budget." This interfaith coalition is in agreement that the faithful way forward to fiscal health is to focus on job creation, revenue increases, a shared commitment to the common good, and cuts in unnecessary military spending.

The urgency is real, the time is now, to make a difference for all Americans who work, live and believe in this country. I urge our elected leaders of this country to let hope, compassion and goodwill shape a better future for all.