When the President of the United States speaks at the United Nations and makes no mention of the Millennium Development Goals, the kindest thing that I can say is, not that he doesn't care, but that he just doesn't get it. I will not argue that terrorism, the subject of his speech, is not a problem. It is, but the problem of poverty throughout the world, with all of the attending problems of inadequate education and health care, is so much more important. Rather than using his "bully pulpit" to address the threat of terrorism, how much more encouraging would it have been for him to use the opportunity to call for renewed and deeper commitments to the MDGs.
But if the President doesn't get it, at least some of us in the Church - and elsewhere - do get it. As a Christian I understand that my work towards the meeting of those goals is a way that I can participate in the missio Dei - God's mission in the world. And because God is not limited to calling only Christians to this work, I can work with sisters and brothers from other faith traditions, or no faith tradition, to accomplish these goals. It's God's work and it is not my place to tell God who can and cannot be called to share in that work.
Beginning at least with Jimmy Carter, former Presidents have made significant contributions to this country and to the world. I pray that when President Bush is no longer carrying the burdens of the office that he would see the world not simply as the battleground for a war against terrorists, but as a place where women and men of all sorts and conditions are working together to meet the Millennium Development Goals. And when he gets it, I pray that he will commit himself to the work of meeting those goals. That may seem like an impossible prayer, but in a week when Christians remember the calling of Matthew, a tax collector for the hated Romans, I am encouraged to believe in and expect miracles.