Presidential Candidates Speak at Faith and Freedom in IowaThis past weekend, Senator Ted Cruz told the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition summit that Democrats had gone to extremes in their persecution of Christians. Cruz said same-sex marriage had produced rabid zealotry in Democratic ranks. This ideology, he argued, was excluding people of faith.

Today’s Democratic Party has become so radicalized for legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states that there is no longer any room for religious liberty.” He also noted the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in four states’ same-sex marriage cases this week and said that between not and then, conservatives must “fall to our knees and pray.”

I know Cruz was speaking to a largely conservative crowd. I get it. Still, all that aside, everyone must fall to knees and pray to God? Over gay marriage?  With all due respect, his stance lacks leadership.

I have no ill-will against gay/lesbian marriage. But I believe both God and our knees deserve better issues for which to pray. Healthcare and Baltimore are two.

On the medical front, a new study in a UK medical journal estimated two-thirds of the world’s population has no access to safe and affordable surgery. It means millions of people die from treatable conditions such as appendicitis and obstructed labor.

Most of those live in low and middle-income countries.  Ninety-three percent (93%) of people in sub-Saharan Africa cannot obtain basic surgical care. In essence, people are dying and living with disabilities that could be avoided with good surgical treatment. Instead, they suffer and are pushed into poverty trying to access surgical care for a quarter who have an operation cannot afford it.

Numbers of trained surgical specialists per 100,000:

  • UK: 35
  • US: 36
  • Brazil 35
  • Japan 17
  • South Africa: 7
  • Bangladesh 1.7
  • Sierra Leone (before Ebola): 0.1

In Baltimore, Maryland, peaceful protests quickly turned into violent riots Saturday evening, closing down the city of Baltimore and creating a panic for thousands of residents. Rioters flooded the streets, throwing rocks and attacking police officers. Reaction on social media was swift, ranging from calls to protest versus appeals to prayer. Some condoned the violence, others pleaded for calm.

Rather than dropping to our knees over gay marriage, the Buddha tried to convey his understanding that the world we inhabit is engulfed in the fires of suffering from deluded impulses. These are fires of greed, hatred, prejudice and ignorance, raging fiercely in the hearts of people. These fires are the basic cause of the suffering.

The violence current engulfing Baltimore is commonly found within families, schools and in local communities. Deep hatred traced to near or distant historical events have given rise to intractable ethnic and racial conflicts. In some cases, such historical hatred is bound up with religious causes or identities, and finds expression in terror and random killing.

Through spiritual practice the energy found within deluded impulses can be transformed into the illuminating “flame” of enlightened wisdom. Thus, all the fires raging within us can be subdued so that they no longer produce confusion and disruption; they can no longer drive us to act in a bizarre and destructive manner. It is for this reason that this transcendence of deluded impulses is known as inner tranquility.

Tranquility and healthcare are worth praying for.