Have you ever thought that politics is spiritual? I know it’s difficult to imagine especially this time of year. I am reminded of the words of the well known author and pastor Rob Bell who spoke in Indianapolis a few weeks ago. His talk was titled “Politics is Spiritual.” He argued that politics is simply defined as “our shared common life together.” Policy is how we organize our shared common life.
With that definition in mind, I believe that mass transportation is spiritual as well. Mass transit is about more than just economics, it’s about connection, mobility, and access to the basic necessities of life. Mass transit is about our shared common life together. Who has access and who doesn’t? How far and how long do people have to travel to gain access to the basic necessities of life?
In the area of local outreach and mission, my congregation, Meridian Street United Methodist Church, set goals to make an impact on hunger and homelessness in Indianapolis. This call comes directly out of the Gospels to love your neighbor and specifically Jesus’ words in Matthew 25. Loving your neighbor goes beyond outreach though. Feeding the hungry, welcoming the stranger clothing those in need and visiting the prisoner are important characteristics of the Christ follower. Yet those words to “love your neighbor” go deeper than just feeding and donating.
To accomplish what we have set out to do, to make an impact on hunger and homelessness, those who live in low income communities and situations need to have access to get to work, school, the grocery store, and other resources. In my work with people who are in need, I have heard time and again about the struggles related to mass transportation in the City of Indianapolis. I have talked with them, prayed with them, and reflected on what I could do. I can vote and advocate for the referendum in November that will expand mass transportation.
This is why I and the congregations of IndyCAN (Congregation Action Network) have felt so strongly that access to the bus lines for our low income communities must increase. In fact, a recent study from Harvard University states that access to public transportation is the number one way to move people out of poverty. As Rosabeth Moss Kanter wrote in the Boston Globe, “Access is the ticket. People from neighborhoods that lack reliable transportation are stuck and can’t find opportunity.”
I encourage you to look up information about our current transit system in Indianapolis and the plan going forward (links are provided below). Maybe take a bus to work or when your shopping one day and experience the challenges that would come if you couldn’t afford a car. Simply talk with those who take the bus and learn about the current system. Pray for those who struggle to get to work or the other basic necessities of life. Then ask yourself, “What can I do?” We could begin by voting in favor of mass transit expansion in November.
I believe that mass transportation is spiritual. This goes beyond an issue, this is about people. The God I find in Jesus calls me to “love my neighbor.” It is my hope that everyone in Indianapolis will have fair and equal access. It can begin with a vote.
Link to the Harvard research:
Link to IndyCAN http://www.indycan.org/transit
Link to Indy Connect (The Transit Plan) http://www.indyconnect.org/
Link to IndyG0 http://www.indygo.net/