Millions tuned in to watch the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. Both were merely parties for a political party funded by wealthy interests seeking to appeal to middle class voters in an election year.
Today, I want to introduce you to a film that just might be the most important thing you watch this week -- or this year, for that matter.
Significant things, no doubt, have and will be said about our country during the political conventions. Competing visions for our future at both events will be presented. And there will be a lot of grandstanding, empty promises, half-truths and deceptions (as their always seem to be in politics).
The media already is obsessing about how many times the word "God" is used in each party's platform as a measure of faith or religiosity, as if crying "Lord, Lord" and vain repetition has replaced obedience to God's command to love our neighbors. And yet, it's the actions of each party during the last four years that gives us true insight into who and what is important to them much more than what gets written down on a party platform or said in speeches during these three-day self-congratulatory celebrations.
Yes, a strong middle class is important for a nation. But I also believe many more people need to be lifted up into economic security.
Matthew 25 doesn't say, "As you have done to the middle class you have done to me."
What it records Jesus saying is, "As you have done to the least of these, you have done to me." Chances are that will never be the central message of political conventions during election years.
But every four years for the last 40 years (even before we were called Sojourners), our community has done what we can to lift up the issue of poverty during presidential elections. While political party platforms have changed, our commitment to the least of these has not.
So it is with that spirit, this election year, that I am proud to present a new short film called The Line.
Written and directed by Emmy Award-winning producer Linda Midgett, it chronicles the very real stories of four real people struggling with real poverty in America today.
You'll meet a banker in the suburban Midwest who used to earn six figures a year and now, after the economic collapse, must go to a food bank to feed his three kids; a fisherman on the Gulf Coast of Louisiana who has watched his livelihood and his culture wash away in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and a devastating offshore oil spill; a blue-collar guy in North Carolina who worked hard his whole life but lost his job, became homeless, and started over as a restaurant bus boy; and a single mom in Chicago who battles daily to ensure that her son is safe, healthy, and has the opportunity to go to college.
You can watch -- and share -- the official trailer for The Line, which debuts next month, right HERE.
The idea of the film is simple: People living in and struggling with poverty telling their own stories. They are beautiful, inspiring, challenging, and full of grace.
In a word, their stories are powerful. The kind you never forget. The kind that make you not only feel something, but compel you to do something.
My Sojourners colleagues and I want to share The Line's stories and message with as many people as we can. That's where you come in. We need your help.
The first thing you can do is watch the trailer. As soon as you've seen it, I'm sure you're going to want to share it with everyone you know.
Next, I invite you to join us. The Line premieres at 8 p.m. (EST) Oct. 2 -- the night before the first presidential debate. With your help, I believe we can make sure both candidates understand they will need to address the issue of poverty during that debate.
But, before we can get there, I need you to help us spread the word. So please, take just a couple of minutes today to watch the trailer and share with everyone you think needs to hear these stories.
And it's with a lot of gratitude that I get to thank our partner -- World Vision -- as well as the generous support from Oxfam America, Bread for the World, and the Christian Community Development Association that made The Line possible.
If you'd like to host a screening of The Line in your town (at your house of worship, a local theater, school, or anywhere else) or find a screening near you, click HERE.
Jim Wallis is the author of Rediscovering Values: A Guide for Economic and Moral Recovery, and CEO of Sojourners. Follow Jim on Twitter @JimWallis and @Sojourners.