Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Everyone Counts

By Bishop Peggy A. Johnson

One of my favorite scripture verses is found in the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians: “The parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.” (I Corinthians 12:22)  It is a declaration of a fundamental spiritual truth that every person is important, necessary and worthy of inclusion and honor. 

This “seem to be weaker” qualifier is a human construct.  It is sinful humanity that puts a value judgement on peoples’ worth.  With our bent on pride and bigotry, people are constantly comparing themselves to others. We often size up a person’s importance based on the outward things that are transient or a part of God’s creative design. These things include a person’s gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, nationality, socio-economic class, intelligence, physical ability, education, even personal appearance. 

The Apostle Paul is saying that no one is weaker here. Our “pecking order” of seeming worthiness is nonsense.  God gives to each the gifts, skills and personhood that God chooses. And everyone is necessary for the good of the whole. This is true in the church, and this is also true in our country today.

Where am I going with all of this?  It is time for the 2020 Census.  I hope that by now you have received your Census form and have filled it out and sent it in.  It is important for everyone to do this. 

The U.S. Census is not used to discriminate against people based on their ethnicity, finances, living situations or citizenship status.  But it does quantify the American people by their demographics and location, and it determines the overall “distribution of political power and money.” The government also uses that information to allocate public funds to healthcare, housing and education programs, in addition to government services.” (Philadelphia Tribune, “We Need to be Counted in the 2020 Census,” by Logan James)

Like the Body of Christ, everyone in our country is indispensable. When everyone is counted we all get what we need, and we become more useful participants in society. 

Historically, communities of color are undercounted.  Again, quoting Logan James, “Past surveys have shown that Latinos, African Americans, non-English speakers, non-traditional families, and those with informal living arrangements are the hardest to calculate.  For every community not counted, $100,000 to $200,000 that would have gone toward advancing their economic, political and society position is lost.”

None of us can afford for any of us to be without housing, education, employment, transportation, and a voice in decision-making.  We are all one family in this country; and when some suffer, everyone ultimately suffers.  A valid Census reveals where we can do a better job to help the whole of society.

We must also impress upon younger generations the importance of the Census. It comes only once every 10 years; and 10 years is a long time to wait for better statistics.  

Spelman College, in Atlanta, Georgia, is the oldest private historically black liberal arts college for women in America. In 2000 they began the Spelman College Census Information Center in cooperation with the U.S. Bureau of the Census and a large number of national, regional and local non-profits.

Their objectives are to get the word out about the importance of the Census, to encourage young people to participate, and to use their research to benefit the community and the world. They know that the future can be brighter for everyone when we have an accurate count of our country’s residents.

No one is weaker. Everyone is indispensable. Each one of us counts. So, be sure that you are counted! Take part in the 2020 Census, and encourage others to do so also.

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