Unitarians Are Good Candidates for RESULTS
UU February 24, 2013 Sermon on RESULTS
When Poverty Ends, Peace Will Come: Real RESULTS
Thank you for having me. I’m here with Linda, my wife, and Barbara Drake and Elaine Holmes, who also volunteer with RESULTS.
I am not a UU, but our son Jeff and granddaughter Tory are. Jeff is a board member of the UU Church of Reston, VA and has served as treasurer. Tory is 15 and has been a member forever, written her personal belief statement. Linda and I have attended services and Tory has told us every UU joke ever recorded. So in that way, I feel like part of the family. And Ara Rogers, Fran Davin, Pat Busbice, and Carol Partington are all special friends of ours. The UU Principles and your vision match ours very well.
I’ve spoken at conventions in front of 1,000 people, but I’ve never given a sermon. This is a place of truth. I hope I do well . . . and I guess you hope so, too.
About 31 years ago, Linda and I went to a presentation by Sam Daley-Harris, the founder of RESULTS and we signed on as volunteers.
RESULTS is a non-partisan citizens lobby to create the public and political will to end poverty. We have chapters across the nation. We approach ending global poverty by three means: by micro-finance for the poorest people, capitalism mostly to women; by education for all, particularly girls as Malala of Pakistan so ably and courageously stood for; and by the elimination of preventable diseases particularly for children under age five.
I’m here today to interest each of you to use RESULTS in a way that helps you fulfill two of your UU Principles:
- The inherent worth and dignity of every person.
- The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.
I ask you to listen from this question: Is there a way for me to participate in RESULTS which fits my principles and fits my life. You’ll find ways you can act on an ad hoc basis as when we have a campaign that asks for a phone call to your Representative to Congress. You’ll find ways to be more involved as partners. Your impact will be important either way and the reward will be great.
Several concepts overlay for me that keep my going in RESULTS.
First, many folks say that when peace comes, poverty will end. I believe that is backwards. I believe that when poverty ends, peace can come. People who are NOT living in poverty are not open to terror, to sending their children to war and suicide. And we will never reduce our military significantly while the ravages of poverty exist around the world. We now have the means to eliminate poverty if we can create the will. That can start here in the US. This isn’t just me speaking. This is the voice of 70 retired generals and admirals in a letter to Congress. This is the voice of all living former secretaries of state in a letter to Congress. The is the voice of former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in a letter to Congress. We need foreign aid and diplomacy to reduce the expenditure of military dollars and the loss of our military men and women’s lives.
We have a special opportunity right now. We can now create a generation who don’t even know what AIDS is . . . in about one generation from now.
So it’s in our selfish national interest to end poverty globally. AND, it’s also the right thing to do.
Secondly for me, there’s what Eldrdge Cleaver told us in the civil rights movement. He said you’re either part of the solution or you’re part of the problem. Now, having grown up as a member of a New York City, liberal Jewish family, while I saw I wasn’t part of the solution, I felt I wasn’t part of the problem. Then I listened to him again. If you’re not part of the solution, he said, you are part of the problem. So doing nothing about poverty is not enough. It makes me complicit in the current situation. While my voice is small, it’s still something. And RESULTS gives me the vehicle and training to make a difference.
What have we done in RESULTS? We have been a critical part of our government's work to reduce poverty, improve health, increase education globally.
RESULTS’ advocacy on child survival, which began in 1984, continues to this day. Over the last 29 years child death rates have dropped from 41,000 a day in the early 1980s to 19,000 a day in 2012. That’s still almost as many people as live in Temple Terrace dying every day, So there is work remaining to be done. Now there are credible calls to reduce preventable child deaths to zero by 2035. The work continues as does the need for more and more empowered citizens.
RESULTS volunteers generated 90 editorials in 1986 in a successful lobbying campaign to triple the child survival fund from $25 million to $75 million. Jim Grant, the amazing head of UNICEF sent this hand-written note:
I want to convey my heartfelt thanks for the unflagging and satisfyingly successful efforts of RESULTS on behalf of vulnerable children and mothers everywhere. I thank you in my mind weekly, if not more often, for what you and your colleagues are accomplishing—but I thought I should do it at least once this year in writing.
Hear this from Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio: “RESULTS, more than any citizen’s group, has had an incredible impact on world health and on bringing attention to these problems . . . The progress would be much less if you were not so engaged.”
Senator Brown joined us two years ago after our annual conference where about 200 of us visit Congress to lobby and he told this story. He had travelled abroad and had a visit with the Pope who told him, “Sherrod, you have saved lives, and that’s a good thing.” The Senator then turned to us and said, “And you have saved lives, and that’s a good thing.” And for the first time after nearly 30 years with RESULTS I got it. And I turned to Linda and said, “Honey, I’ve saved a life somewhere. I don’t know who it is and that person won’t know me . . . but it’s a good thing. And you have, too.” We both were touched to tears.
This from Ambassador Tony Hall, whom we worked with very closely when he was in Congress: “The success achieved on global immunization and related funding for international health and hunger programs simply would not be possible without the persistent, dedicated work of RESULTS members across the nation.”
When RESULTS first lobbied for microfinance at the end of 1986 fewer than one million of the poor around the world had access to a micro-loan. By the 1997 there were 7.6 million with a micro-loan, and by 2011 the count had risen to more than 124 million very poor families with more than 621 million family members. .
After receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 Muhammad Yunus recognized as the father of microcredit said:
No other organization has been as critical a partner in seeing to it that microcredit is used as a tool to eradicate poverty and empower women than RESULTS. . . .
The mission of RESULTS is to create the public and political will to end poverty. It also has the goal to help people break through the idea that as one individual, they can not make a difference.
I will read for a moment from RESULTS founder Sam Daley-Harris’s book Reclaiming Our Democracy.
The premise of this book is that citizens, working within a powerful structure of support, can make a real difference in creating the political will to solve national and global problems including a dramatic reduction in child mortality and hunger around the world. But for most people that premise is doubtful at best and absurd at worst. We are haunted by this secretly held belief: while we know we can love and nurture those close to us and can make a difference in our communities, most of us mistakenly believe that we don’t really make a difference in the larger world. The idea that we can be anything more than mere spectators to change at the national or international level, especially with our voices as citizens, seems ludicrous to most people.
This book aims to lay that mistaken belief to rest. And Linda and I have seen that we have made a difference.
What have we done locally? Most recently, Linda and Barbara and I met with Rep. Dennis Ross’s District Director Blaine Gravitt. We’re new to Congressman Ross’s district and we’re starting a working relationship with his staff and eventually with him. We may have differences with some of his ideas, but we seem to be allies regarding foreign aid to developing countries. We plan to become his unpaid staff on our issues, which make up a very small part of his total spectrum of issues.
We met him at his town hall meeting in Temple Terrace and we are working to meet with him at his office in the district.
Last year, we asked though a legislative aide that he join the House TB Elimination Caucus and he did. He didn’t know of it before we brought it to his attention. There’s a lot going on in Congress and we think it’s our job to keep him and his staff up to date and informed on the issues we support in the global arena: education for all, microfinance, and elimination of preventable diseases.
After he did that, we had a letter to the editor in the Tampa Tribune which publicly thanked him and acknowledged him as someone willing to listen to his constituents.
We have met with Kathy Castor, Gus Bilirakis, Rich Nugent, and Ginny Brown-Waite. We have met with staff at the offices of Bill Young, Bill Nelson, Marco Rubio.
In our four years in Tampa, we’ve had 15 op-eds and guest columns published in the Tampa Bay Times and Tampa Tribune. We’ve had 24 letters to the editor published in the Times and Trib. We have a relationship with Joe Guidry and Tim Nickens, the editors of the editorial page at the Trib and Times. We were interviewed by Rob Lauri on WMNF.
We’re just ordinary people who have brought what Sam and RESULTS have taught us into action. We were taught what to do, how to do it, and what the facts are. We then used our own ingenuity and life experience to put it into action. Each of us has abilities that can be used. Linda and I are different and we each use what we are best at and what we enjoy doing. We see people all around our country doing the same thing and having great effects.
And we’ve save some lives . . . and that’s a good thing.
There’s a place for each of you . . . each of you. Whatever your time restraints and availability, there’s a place for you in RESULTS. We’re looking for people in whatever place you are. You can get whatever training you desire and need from RESULTS. The Tampa chapter can become a UU Church of Tampa affiliated organization. We’re looking for partners and would love to find some one or two people who would like to be the chapter leaders in place of Linda and me.
We’ll be here for the gathering after the service. We’ll have information and would like to talk, and answer questions, and maybe make a date to get together and explore a roll for you in RESULTS.
Thank you. I hope you didn’t finish listening before I finished talking.