Yesterday I interviewed Michael Vollmer, who is the director of the Newman Center on the campus of Northern Arizona State University. Last year the Newman Center, which is a Catholic ministry, set up a “Hunger Banquet” to demonstrate to students the economic differences between the First, Second and Third Worlds. Mr. Vollmer said in Third World countries (Ethiopia, Sudan, Biafra…), annual income generally ranges from a couple hundred to a thousand dollars. In the Second World countries (Ukraine, Poland…), annual salaries generally range from $1,000 to $7,000. And in the First World countries (America, Canada, England…) annual salaries generally range from $7,000 and up… In the “banquet” this night, students were seated in three areas. The first represented the Third World. There was no table or chairs and rudimentary bowls to put small amounts of rice in. That was it. The second area had an old table and some chairs. On the table was some rice, beans and a glass of water. In the third section, which represented the First World, Mr. Vollmer said they tried to replicate a typical Sunday dinner for a middle class family in America. There was a nice table and chairs, a table cloth and glasses for water and cider. The table also had rice, a fresh salad, a roasted chicken, gravy, corn, mash potatoes and desert was cheese cake. (Pretty standard fare for an American middle class meal.) Mr. Vollmer said the students at the First World table were hesitant to eat their food, had a hard time looking at their friends at the other settings, and eventually felt so guilty they tried to give some of the food to their friends… The First World currently represents about 15% of the globe’s populace, the Second World represents 30% and the Third World represents a whopping 55%. That’s a lot of hungry people. And a lot of malnourished people that are getting all kinds of diseases (sometimes fatal) because their immune systems are so depressed because of the lack of, not only food, but healthy food… Now to go back to the visual of the three dinner settings at the Newman Center. There’s a Biblical parable Jesus tells about the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man dines “sumptuously” every day while Lazarus, the beggar, lies at the rich man’s gate hungry every day. The rich man dies and goes to Hell for eternity as a result. It wouldn’t take a Biblical scholar to see that the modern corrolary would be all of us in America dining daily on chicken, mash potatoes, fresh salad, cheese cake… while people in Ethiopia dine daily on: rice. (And sometimes they don’t even have that, like during the current famine in eastern Africa.)… Earlier in the campaign, I gave a talk to a theology class at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, explaining about the tremendous disparity in relation to the First World and the Third World. A priest approached me after the talk and said he’d just heard Pope John Paul II say the First World and Third World epitomized the ‘rich man and Lazarus” parable. This would beg the question (as the destitute on the streets of Calcutta beg for rice): Is each of us who are”dining sumptuously” in the First World headed for the same eternal destiny as the rich man in the parable? Serious food for thought. Note: Last night I went to a “Last Supper” Mass at St. Puis X Church in Flagstaff, Arizona. The priest, playing the role of Jesus, washed the feet of 12 parishioners then said in his homily that as the apostles were willing to “receive” from Jesus, we should be willing to “receive” from our neighbors in a good spirit. He relayed this rather soft, pandering message to a bunch of surbanites who had probably just finished their chicken, salad, mash potatoes and cheese cake… before they came to the service in their Lexus… Jesus washed the feet of the apostles to show them that spirituality was about serving others. Yet so often the First World priests and ministers of today, won’t confront all of us for eating our chicken, fresh salad, mash potatoes, cheese cake… and not better “serving” our hungry brothers and sisters in the Third World — because, well, these priests and ministers are often leaving the service afterward in their Lexus (or whatever) to eat, that’s right: chicken, fresh salad, mash potatoes and cheese cake.

About Joe Schriner

Common man, Common sense, Uncommon solutions. "In an era when presidential campaigns run on multi-million dollar war chests, lavish fundraising dinners and high gloss television ads, Joe Schriner is a different breed of candidate." - The Herald, Monterey, California. Joe at a glance... Age: 56. Family: Husband of 17 years, and father. Faith: Catholic. Home state: Ohio. Graduate of Bowling Green State University. Journalist and author. Also a former addictions counselor, with an emphasis on family systems. Independent presidential candidate in four successive election cycles. On the road campaigning extensively. In between campaign tours, now does part-time house painting and light handyman work to make ends meet (aka: Joe the painter). Volunteer work with: Brown County (OH) Board of Mental Health; Catholic Worker outreach to the poor in the inner city of Cleveland; We Are the Uninsured Healthcare Movement in Ohio. Inner city youth league baseball and soccer coach (won some, lost some). Hobbies: Trying to beat his wife at "Scrabble," weight lifting, swimming, photography, sandlot baseball, soccer, football and basketball with his children. In Joe's words... I'm, for the most part, your average Midwesterner, I told the Duluth (MN) News. I jog in a pair of gray sweats. My favorite spots to eat are your basic diners. Whats more, I cut my own lawn. Oh, and Im running for president. I told the Lancaster (OH) Eagle Gazette that the reason I am running for president is that I am a concerned parent. That is, I don't want to leave a world of climate change, war, abortion, rural and inner city poverty, violent streets, nuclear proliferation, astronomical national debt, little social security, dwindling access to healthcare to our children. What sane parent would? Now, I didn't go to Harvard, Yale, or even Rutgers for that matter. I went to Bowling Green State University where I majored in journalism. I then worked for a couple intermediate-sized Ohio newspapers. I later became an addictions counselor. And in 1990, as a lead up to the presidential run, I took my journalism skills on the road to look for common sense solutions to the societal problems I outlined above. And in some tremendously extensive, cross-country research (that has continued during my years of campaigning), I've found those solutions.        Getting policies enacted... Amidst abject poverty on the Southside of Chicago, I learned how to end homelessness. In Atwood, Kansas (pop. 1,500), I learned how to balance the National Budget. In Grand Junction, Colorado, I learned how to get quality healthcare for all. In High Springs, Florida, I learned how to end global warming, for good. In Eunice, New Mexico, I learned how to unequivocally solve the immigration issue. And it was with this information, and much more, that I am running for president. No big money. No special interest backing. Just with tried solutions to make the country a much better place for our kids. While campaigning for president the past 12 years (and over 100,000 road miles), I've been telling people about these answers in hundreds of talks, more than 1,000 newspapers, a lot of radio, television and in a very up-close-and-personal way on the street corners of America. I told Channel 10 News in Albany, Georgia, that I can get a policy enacted long before I ever get to D.C., if somebody picks up on an idea and tries it in their town. And who knows how far out it will ripple out from there. So in a small way, I said during a talk at Toledo University, I am already president now! The students all smiled, politely. Be the change... I am also a firm believer that this won't be a better world for our children until more of us follow the saying: Be the change you want to see in the world. In this pursuit, my family and I try to live the messages we are conveying, at least the best we can. On a radio station in Indianapolis, Indiana, I said our platform asks some people to consider moving into the inner cities of America to live side-by-side with the poor. So our family moved to the heart of Cleveland, Ohio, where we volunteered at an outreach to the poor. I told the Tifton (GA) Gazette that our family has also set aside a Christ Room for the homeless at our place. And in D.C. we'd do the same thing in the West Wing. Just like I may well be looking for a youth baseball team to coach when I get there. I recently coached an inner city Rec. Center League team in Cleveland. On draft day I picked the kids who looked liked they'd be picked last, first. And apparently I did pretty well with this, because we lost almost all the games. Many of the kids on the team, sadly, didn't have a father at home. And many of these families don't have healthcare insurance either, just like two million other Ohioans. To help try to reverse this, my children and I have done volunteer work for the We Are The Uninsured Movement in Ohio. The reason our children are involved is because Liz and I want them learning as much about helping others -- as they do learning about math, science and English, I told The Mississippi Press. In fact, our education platform calls for a lot more local community involvement with students. I we also propose many more classes be focused on environmental awareness. To do our family's part for the environment, we created a "Kyoto Protocol Home Zone." (I even put a "Kyoto Protocol Home Zone" sign up in the front yard, to Liz's embarrassment.) We live in small places, use little air conditioning, cut the thermostat back in the winter, bicycle or walk almost everywhere within a five-mile radius and we recycle practically everything. And in D.C., we'd do all this as well. I mean, those big black limos alone can be such gas guzzlers anyway, right? Heal the family... "My concern for the environment, for the disadvantaged, for the unborn flows out of my spirituality. I'm Catholic, and trying to live the essence of the Gospel message is what I try to be about," I told columnist Mike Haynes of the Amarillo (TX) Globe News. And part of living the Gospel message is being centered in faith, having time for family, being concerned about others. I'm not the poster guy for all that, but I try. What's more, its Liz and my role to make sure our children have a wholesome and emotionally healthy upbringing. And I have some additional expertise in the latter area. Besides having been a journalist, I was also a counselor who worked with family system dynamics. And it is my contention that the current breakdown of the family in America (parents being physically or emotionally abusive, or absent, or addicted to alcohol, drugs, gambling, media entertainment, work) is creating a constellation of societal problems, I told ABC News in Monterey, California. Because of these dysfunctional family dynamics (and they seem to be everywhere these days), kids grow up depressed, angry and emotionally empty. As a result, incidence of domestic violence, street violence, addiction, mental and emotional problems spike in kind for the next generation, and the next... "So to heal the country, you have to heal the family. Theres just no way around it," I told the Bangor (ME) News. And we have a solid plan to do this, based on research weve done in Arthur, Illinois, Holbrook, Arizona, Carmel Valley, California, etc. Snow shoveling... Now when I'm not grappling with these pressing societal issues, my wife Liz is beating me at "Scrabble" (an issue in itself), or I'm playing racquetball with some buddies, or I'm trading baseball cards with our kids. That is, I'm doing all this in between doing chores for Liz. During a campaign talk in Wichita, Kansas, I was asked what the first thing I'd do as president was. I responded that "wed get to D.C. in January, so it would probably be snowing. If that, indeed, were the case -- the first thing Liz would have me do is: shovel the walk. " That will probably be a new one for the Secret Service. And so it goes... Joe

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