I have always had great respect for the comic pages of newspapers. I remember them as “the funnies.” Some of them were just plain fun, like Blondie, Peanuts, Popeye, or Smokey Stover. Others were as adventurous as any novel, like Terry and the Pirates, Buz Sawyer, Tailspin Tommy, Wash Tubbs and Captain Easy or Dick Tracy.
Some were of a political slant while remaining humorous, such as Pogo, L’il Abner, Little Orphan Annie and Doonesbury by Garry Trudeau.
A recent Sunday’s Doonesbury strip had B.D.’s teenage daughter, Sam, asking Rev. Sloan a question. (B.D. is the former football quarterback and wounded Iraq War veteran). “Reverend Sloan, I’ve been noticing something about the [Bible] readings in the church.” She goes on to explain that whenever he reads from the Old Testament God is always crabby and snarky to everyone. But the New Testament isn’t about anger at all — it’s about love.
“God’s only son is this total pacifist — he wouldn’t harm a flea. He’s just this humble dude who’s mellow to everyone — even the Romans.” She turns to her mother and says, “He only really snaps once, right?”
“With who, honey?” Her mother asks. Innocent little Sam says: “The money-lenders Mom!” To which Mom says, “Oh, right. What is it about money lenders?” Rev. Sloan, who has been in the strip 30 years, comments: “They do seem to set people off, don’t they?”
Money lenders don’t “set people off” enough. When the credit card industry only gets a slap on the wrist in the recent laws, not enough people raised a ruckus. The changes are minor and high usury rates will continue to rule with very little oversight.
Out of the mouths of babes come great truths. This time from a character in the Sunday funnies. We don’t expect such a strong New Testament Christian message from the funny papers. Especially from as radical a liberal as Trudeau.
Trudeau has been a critic of war, government foibles, bureaucratic screwups and pretense of greatness since he was a student in Yale during the Vietnam War. He has never backed off from sticky subjects. There were instances when some newspapers would not print the strip if they were offended by the subject matter that week.
From this comical soapbox I want to ask those who proclaim America as a Christian nation, why are we so stuck in the Old Testament? Why do we never learn? From fighting Spain for Cuba and the Philippines, to two world wars, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan? All that money spent on wars when so little is done for the educational system. Take a look at the national budget. Most of the money goes for “learnin’ war” and inventing more efficient ways to kill people. Education and health are not priorities for America’s CEOs and congress any more than they were for Israel in Old Testament times.
We lament the education system’s having such a difficult time. But do little about it, nationally or locally. Money will not solve the education of the next generation all by itself. Suppose Congress would take a mere one-half of one percent of the defense budget, what a difference it would make. (Not funds for unions or education “experts.”) Equipment, supplies, smaller classes and a decent, living wage for the classroom teachers could all be a reality.
Adding some government budget money will not help if the parents do not join with the teachers to put the kids first. It is not news that far too many far-from-educated dropouts are having kids. Do we think the dropouts will make their child’s education a priority?
Today’s funny pages are funny in a different way. They point out our short-comings. They point out we can do better. They remind us, as we look back, that the present can be better and the future brighter — when we get our priorities right.
Britt Towery’s e-mail is bet@sudden
link.net. Read his China Journal at www.towerytales.blogspot.com.