Commentary

Sixteen wishes!

Do you remember The Walt Disney Company’s theme, “When You Wish Upon A Star”? And, do you recall childhood fairy tales in which someone is granted one or more wishes? The fun of these stories, of course, was reading about such wishes and how they were eventually fulfilled.

I have sometimes thought that, if I were given three wishes, they would be something like this: One, a more peaceful and a less militarized world. Two, a world in which human suffering (hunger, disease, etc.) was non-existent. And three, a world united by our creator God and our gracious Savior.

Now, recognizing that such massive wishes are not likely to be fulfilled in my lifetime (and that they even carry an apocalyptic flavor), I will settle today for 16 other wishes, all of which could be realized, should we mortals ever wish to make them come true. So, I wish …

Paul Harrington

I wish that everyone on the planet would have access to pure drinking water and mosquito netting.

1. That every piece of legislation in Congress would be voted on separately. Bundling (and therefore concealing) legislation should not be acceptable.

2. That all banks would be required to hold their mortgages for at least five years. This simple law would have prevented 90 percent of the current housing crisis.

3. That we would dramatically amend and simplify the Federal Income Tax Code which now numbers about 2,000 pages, becoming an almost incomprehensible document.

4. That no former Members of Congress would work as a lobbyist for at least five years after leaving office. The present system almost always works against the average American citizen and clearly favors special interest groups.

5. That we would reinstate the draft as a way to equalize both the burdens and horrors of war. (Rich people start wars and poor people most often fight and die in them.) Those still wishing to volunteer could surely do so.

6. That the richest nations of the world would seek to forgive at least some of the debts of the poorest nations.

7. That American Indian casino profits would be shared equally with all tribes across the nation and that casino profits would be subject to state taxation, since states pay for all the infrastructure that support a casino.

8. That the advertising of prescription drugs would be banned. Only two or three nations on the planet condone such advertising. Do not worry; the drug companies will always keep doctors well informed as to what is available to patients.

9. That Israel and the Palestinians would find a workable two-state solution to end their conflict. Until that happens, there will be no lasting peace in the Middle East.

10. That embryonic stem cell research would go forward with all due diligence. There is no logical reason to stymie promising scientific endeavors that could lead to alleviating so much human suffering.

11. That all forms of responsible contraception would be endorsed by all religions as a way of controlling disease, poverty, unwanted pregnancies, and excessive population growth.

12. That all religions would stop hiding or defending clergy pedophiles. The amount of psychological and emotional damage pedophilia causes a victim is almost incalculable.

13. That all forms of racism and sexism would be soundly denounced by all of the world’s religions, some of whom have themselves promoted these very prejudices for centuries.

14. That everyone on the planet would have access to pure drinking water and mosquito netting. The World Health Organization believes that these two measures alone would cure about half of all the world’s preventable illnesses.

15. That religions of the world would strive to elevate the status of women, halting all bride burnings, stonings, beatings, exclusion from education and ordination, and that women the world over be granted the same civil liberties enjoyed by the male gender.

16. That all states would mandate the use of ignition interlock breath analyzer devices as a way to keep drunk drivers off the road. This simple device has already proven itself to be highly effective in several states.

Well, there you have it. I can think of 16 more right off the top of my head (such as getting rid of political attack ads, telemarketing, and mosquitoes!), but these will do for now.

Even if only a few of these were ever realized, I believe it would greatly enhance the quality of life on this earth. So why don’t we pray, work, organize, and legislate in such a way that at least some of these wishes (or similar ones) may one day become a reality. Who knows what good could come from such efforts?

Paul L. Harrington is pastor emeritus of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church (ELCA), Apple Valley, Minnesota. He is currently interim campus pastor at Luther Seminary.

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