Governor Sonny Perdue’s showy prayer display last Tuesday (conveniently scheduled just before a brief rain shower that had been in the forecast for days), reminded me of this story. Our state is drying out, we have not ever had a statewide water plan, and our governor’s two-pronged response is to take more water from our downstream neighbors and to call a prayer conference. To be sure, prayer is important. However, as a Christian whose Democratic values are informed by her faith, I am tired of watching Republicans co-opt my faith and use it as a cover for poor leadership. The Georgia legislature, led by Speaker Richardson and Lt. Gov. Cagle, is poised to start considering the state’s first-ever water management plan in the 2008 session. They should be ashamed. The water emergency did not sneak up on our leadership; they ignored it hoping that we would be blessed with a monsoon that would eliminate the need for planning and sacrifice.
G-d gave humans the ability to reason, to plan, to foresee threats and to mitigate them. The refusal of an individual to use those gifts and rely solely on divine intervention is lazy; the refusal of a leader to use those gifts is an abdication of the trust placed in him by the citizens of this state.
Atlanta Business Chronicle recently published an article focused on the Dallas region and its water management plan. The Dallas region has a water plan through 2060. I doubt that Dallas’ leadership is lacking in religious fervor. What they have in abundance is the foresight and courage to face the water crisis and head it off through sacrifices made upfront that will protect the region’s future.
I don’t have a problem with what Sonny did. I have a problem with what he didn’t do. I suspect that most Christian leaders pray for guidance. They don’t need to put on press conferences to prove that they’re doing so. Still, failure to plan is planning to fail. We ought not to reward failure, even when it dresses itself up as piety. A prayer conference to make up for a gross lack of leadership is a cynical and manipulative ploy. Georgians deserve better.
I call on Georgia to pray. Pray for leadership. Pray for a governor who takes the state’s problems seriously enough to create a plan to confront the challenges we face. Pray for a governor who will follow through on his word. And of course, since there's nothing like a quick fix, pray for rain too.