Heaven is for those who share

By Dave Conard

Jesus Christ says people like George W. Bush don’t go to heaven.

That’s right. Jesus, the President’s favorite political philosopher, says he isn’t coming up. It’s because he’s rich. Since Bush has between $7.6 million and $18.9 million, he qualifies as bring rich, according to the Center for Public Integrity.

In Matthew 19:24, Jesus said, “And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”

Imagine “W” standing by the pearly gates with a camel, a needle and lots of Vaseline. No, wait, don’t imagine that.

It’s not just Bush who is classified as rich. Many Americans have too much wealth and pathetically define themselves by wasting it, while billions of people suffer without basic necessities.

These necessities include childhood education. A 1999 United Nations Development Program press release stated only $6 billion more a year could provide a basic education to every child on earth.

To put that in perspective, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported Americans spent $998.2 billion on tourism in the first quarter of 2005 alone.

I know NIU students need every penny for that trip to Cancun. That’s why they could only give $4,422 for the Red Cross collection on campus for Hurricane Katrina, a wretched average of 17 cents per student. But people say I shouldn’t judge.

In a discussion about materialism in one English class, a fellow student criticized me, saying he knew a family friend worth $12 billion dollars who was a great guy.

I guess he must be, if he’s worth twice what it would take to educate every child on earth.

What’s he going to do, buy a few aircraft carriers? Take over the Western Pacific?

Speaking of military equipment, yuppies don’t need a tamed version of the giant Hummer. The Hummer H2 gets 7 to 11 miles to the gallon, has a base price of $49,395, and Consumer Reports gives it a “much worse than average” reliability rating. But those yuppies want the Hummer just so they can pretend they’re some rugged, off-road individualist while waiting in gridlock. Or so they can pull their giant monster out of its hole and tell the neighbor, “Mine’s bigger!”

Defining yourself by what you drive is very sad. No one cares what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. drove. It’s the same for fashion. Gandhi didn’t order his loincloth from a salon in Paris. Jesus didn’t have designer sandals – or Bush’s $265 Allen-Edmonds shoes.

Americans don’t remember this, however.

For a car, they waste what people in Afghanistan make in a lifetime.

CIA World Factbook states the average per capita income in Afghanistan is $800.

Simple decency isn’t the only reason to be worried about Afghanis’ salaries.

An Aug. 15 Associated Press article states, “It doesn’t take much money to set up a militia force in Afghanistan. A few dollars a day buys the loyalty of impoverished villagers, and weapons are cheap and available.”

These are the people fighting us. While many are maniacs who want a world-wide totalitarian Islamic state, others fight just to get bread. We can’t bomb our way out of this one.

The Afghani’s poverty bothers me. A beginning newspaper reporter only makes about $25,000, the same amount 31 Afghans make in a year. I ask myself: Am I so talented and so smart that I’m worth 31 Afghans? (I know what my critics will say.)

While I may end up joining the Peace Corps, here’s something for you to do.

Instead of buying a Hummer H2, buy a Buick Le Sabre. Consumer Reports said it’s very reliable, it gets 30 mpg on the highway and you’ll save more than $20,000.

You can give it to the Red Cross for New Orleans. It would make Jesus (or Allah or Buddha) proud.

Columns reflect the opinion of the author and not necessarily that of the Northern Star staff.