There is a mantra in Louisiana politics in the literal sense of that word – ‘a word or sound that is believed to have a special spiritual power’. It typically goes something like this: ‘Poverty is the cause of all evil in our State; education and jobs will eradicate poverty, which will eradicate evil.’
Hunter Lundy, one of the candidates for governor, put his own spin on The Mantra in an interview:
“We can have all of the economic opportunity, and yet we still only have a mean income of $43,000 in Louisiana. Why? It’s because of generational poverty,” he said. “Sixty percent of our children go to public school just to get a meal. This has to be addressed. You can’t ignore the elephant in the room.”
Poverty can be fixed through education, he said.
“I want to move to the community school system where we bring education down to the lowest level possible,” he said. “Ninety-five percent of our parishes and our people in this state have common sense and a good moral compass. We have leadership that can lead. We do not need to run education out of Baton Rouge.”
Louisianans and their politicians will, with little doubt, repeat The Mantra ad nauseum this election season, but there is a problem:
It isn’t true.
Poverty isn’t the root of all our problems. The decline of Christianity is. I will try to illustrate this from two different angles.
First, consider my Pa-Paw. He grew up dirt poor in southern Arkansas. That is not an exaggeration. He plowed the fields behind a mule in his bare feet and attended a one-room school house during the years of the Great Depression. And yet, amazingly, after WWII (in which he fought), he was somehow able to overcome the hindrances of his dreaded early poverty and start a successful business in north Louisiana that continues today, long after he passed away. Many other Southern boys have/had similar stories.
According to The Mantra, however, this should have been impossible without a college educated, professional teacher squawking at him inside a shiny, brand-new school building with all the latest technology.
Second, think about Christian monasteries, where the monks and nuns live in voluntary poverty. According to The Mantra (poverty leads inevitably to evil), these places should be the amongst the vilest dens of criminality. But history shows us over and over again the exact opposite: that the monasteries are actually amongst the best places in the world to live, attracting pilgrims from the ends of the earth to experience the other-worldly hospitality, love, joy, etc., that exist there.
How can these things be?
In my Pa-Paw’s case, he had a loving, intact family that raised him according to Christian ways.
In the case of the monasteries, it is similar: The Gospel is the law that reigns over all matters.
Poverty is irrelevant. The state of the soul is what matters for the well-being of people. Handing a welfare check to someone who is irreligious, or sitting him in a vo-tech class, won’t do him a lick of good in the long run because he feels no responsibility toward God or man to live in a decent manner.
Our politicians have to publicly recognize this; they must cease to be politicians and become instead Christian statesmen, who will make the promotion of Christianity a major part of their ‘agendas’ to be implemented after being elected. Instead of The Mantra, they need to repeat the basics of the Christian Faith and formulate policies in accord with them:
. . .
Holy Ælfred the Great, King of England, South Patron, pray for us sinners at the Souð, unworthy though we are!
Anathema to the Union!