A blog by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration about justice and peace issues

Posts tagged ‘justice’

A green new deal

I want to share a piece from Bill McKibben about a “green” new deal.

McKibben’s article “A world at war,” published August 15 in New Republic, offers a tactic that could tackle a lack of well-paying jobs and environmental devastation. During this particular time when as a nation we are discerning the next president, members of Congress and the Senate, McKibben’s piece is a reminder to dream big:

In the North this summer, a devastating offensive is underway. Enemy forces have seized huge swaths of territory; with each passing week, another 22,000 square miles of Arctic ice disappears. Experts dispatched to the battlefield in July saw little cause for hope, especially since this siege is one of the oldest fronts in the war. “In 30 years, the area has shrunk approximately by half,” said a scientist who examined the onslaught. “There doesn’t seem anything able to stop this.”

blue-icebergs

Image courtesy of www.freeimages.com

In the Pacific this spring, the enemy staged a daring breakout across thousands of miles of ocean, waging a full-scale assault on the region’s coral reefs. In a matter of months, long stretches of formations like the Great Barrier Reef—dating back past the start of human civilization and visible from space—were reduced to white bone-yards …

Read more of McKibben’s article at https://newrepublic.com/article/135684/declare-war-climate-change-mobilize-wwii?utm=350org

All life is sacred

The Orlando shooting has the ignominy of being the largest mass shooting in the United States. Sadly, this is a field with steep competition. More horrifically, mass shootings account for only a tiny portion of annual gun deaths in the U.S. The Guardian provides a thorough analysis here.

Conversations surrounding the shooting are riddled with toxicity. Whether it is politicians and gun rights advocates once again claiming that if everyone was armed no one would be hurt or the religious extremists who name violence against the LGBTQ+ community as God’s “will,” there is little left to help the average person understand or act.

It is overwhelming to be drenched in the horror of the mass execution Omar Mateen enacted; to watch the same actors take the same positions on the same stage and, once again, nothing happens.

Yet in the last week, two congressman changed that trajectory on the Senate and House floor: Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who led a 15-hour filibuster, and Representative John Lewis, who staged a sit-in after gun control measures failed to pass. A brief video of Rep. Lewis (below) as well another of Sen. Murphy by Rolling Stone offer different view points of what might be possible if people decide to no longer accept that change is impossible.

It is a testament of hope and a clear moral call to not give up on creating change. In these times when the deaths of literally thousands of people have failed to move the political dial it is easy to feel powerless and hopeless; as if our voices and our actions do not matter.

And yet every grieving family member has no choice—they cannot turn away because for them there is no where left to turn. It is vital that we find a way forward, and the courage of both Rep. Lewis and Sen. Murphy can be contagious if we let it.

In closing a prayer from Bishop John Noonan of the Diocese of Orlando:

All life is sacred as each one of us is made in the image and likeness of God. We cherish each person as a child of God.

We pray for victims of violence and acts of terror … for their families and friends … and all those affected by such acts against God’s love.

We pray for the people of the city of Orlando that God’s mercy and love will be upon us as we seek healing and consolation.

Every time we look at the Cross, we see how God has forgiven us in Christ—with a love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things; love never fails.

We dry the tears of those who weep and mourn as gently as Veronica wiped the Lord’s bleeding face on the Via Dolorosa.

May the Peace of Christ dwell within our heart.

Black Lives Matter

Ferguson-Michael-Brown-690

As a nation we have watched Ferguson and as nation we have waited to hear if Darren Wilson would be held accountable for shooting an unarmed civilian. In the time of waiting we learned of Tamir Brown, a 12-year-old boy shot dead in Cleveland, and Akai Gurley, a 22-year-old father shot dead in the stairwell of his housing unit. We have seen communities across the nation rise up and demand justice. The murder of Michael was not justified because a police officer fired the gun. The fact that a sworn officer of the state fired the gun amplifies the murder to a state-sanctioned killing. If the state will not protect you–will not recognize your right to life–where do you go?

And is that who we are? A nation that kills 12-year-old boys who have toy guns in parks? A nation that kills unarmed civilians? The lack of indictments would say yes.

Melissa Harris-Perry holds open a space to remember the people left to pick up the pieces of lost life. In her open letter to Lesley McSpadden, mother of Michael Brown, she invites us to remember for how long black mothers have faced state-sanctioned destruction of black families. She invites us to step outside the media blitz on this issue and be present to a grieving mother. May this presence–this grief–help all of us to join those in the streets demanding justice.

Click her to watch: Letter to Mother of Michael Brown

Hunger Games: May the odds be ever in your favor!

This post will make the most sense for those of you who have read the Hunger Games series or at least seen the first movie. If you are reading this and have not seen the movie or read the books I recommend giving them a try if only for the questions they raise.

Simple low down – Katniss Everdeen lives in the future United States. Through different past events the U.S. has shifted from states into regional districts and  the districts are ruled by the Capitol, the nation’s largest city. Katniss lives in District 12, one of the poorest districts and the one responsible for providing coal to the Capitol for energy.

The Capitol, in an effort to maintain control over the districts, holds an annual “Hunger Games.” Each district (excluding the Capitol) holds a “reaping” in which  a female and male “contender” who are between the ages of 12 – 18 are selected in a drawing ran by Capitol officials. These contenders are then brought to the Capitol to live in an arena where they will fight to the death. The last one standing is considered the “victor” and when they return home may live in the “Victors Village” in their own district.

The entire “games” is televised and seen by Capitol citizens as entertainment while the families in the district must watch as one of their own children kills or is killed or both. Katniss’ sister, Primrose is chosen, but Katniss volunteers to replace her in the games. And so begins an incredible story of survival, the bounds of love, and the power of  the powerful to change a life.

The Hunger Games is a gruesome story line and one that is easy to dismiss as too fantastic. When would any country demand that their children fight to the death in a televised spectacle?

And yet as you read the book or watch the film there is something chilling and familiar in the lines of the story – tell me if any of this rings a bell …

A part of the world that guzzles resources while those who live around it are cast into poverty…

A part of the world that watches “real life” on T.V. finding humor, entertainment, and even pleasure in the struggles, humiliations, and tragedies of others…

A part of the world where a child who dies in one neighborhood is treated differently than a child who may die in another neighborhood…

Sound at all familiar?

The Hunger Games draws from realities in the present and casts them into the future – what will it look one hundred years from now? Reality T.V., consumerism, government, how we are in relationship to one another?

Will the great – great grandchildren of today’s first graders stand in a line praying that their name is not called ? What do we need to create today, what do we need to change today to make sure that the “odds” will be forever in everyone’s favor.

Read the book, see the movie, have a conversation and tell me what you think.

We remember them: the Kandahar killing spree

I am haunted this week by the Kandahar killing spree. I keep thinking of the young men I met through the Afghan Youth Peace Initiative, some as young as 12, and I wonder what if they were one of the 16? What if one of those brave young men working for peace in Afghanistan had been dragged from their bed at 3 a.m. and shot in the head?

I am haunted by this soldier. After his third tour and traumatic brain injury he believed he would be sent to Hawaii for a desk job, instead he was sent to the most unstable area in yet another war zone. What had happened to him that the only option left was to shoot men, women and children in the middle of the night and then light their bodies on fire?

I am haunted by Leon Panetta who bluntly told the press, “war is hell,”  and to expect that this type of tragedy would happen again.

I am haunted by the story we keep telling ourselves that in this war there are “good” deaths and “bad” deaths as if the loss of any human life fits into such cheap categories.

I am haunted and yet I know that peace, justice and healing find their roots in what haunts us, what disturbs us and what will not allow us to say death and suffering and horror are what we should expect. So I borrow from the traditions of healing I have been taught in Colombia. Another war zone, another place where too often death is treated as a normalized outcome of “war.”

The Colombians have taught me the power of memory and how in honoring those who have suffered, those who have died, you hold open the space for what can be – for what we do not yet see but refuse to ever relinquish our hope for…

So as a way to honor memory and pray for hope I offer this prayer for all those who have been killed in Iraq, Afghanistan and all the places of war around the world…

Leader: In the rising of the sun and in its going down,

All: We remember them.

Leader: In the glowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,

All: We remember them.

Leader: In the opening of buds and in the rebirth of spring,

All: We remember them.

Leader: In the blueness of sky and in the warmth of summer,

All: We remember them.

Leader: In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of autumn,

All: We remember them.

Leader: In the beginning of the year and when it ends,

All: We remember them.

Leader: When we are weary and in need of strength,

All: We remember them.

Leader: When we are lost and sick at heart,

All: We remember them.

Leader: When we have joys we yearn to share,

All: We remember them. So long as we live, they too shall live,

For they are now a part of us, as we remember them.

From Prayers for Life, Edited By: Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon

The Journey to Smile

Afghan Youth in India

Below is an update from Hakim and the Afghan Youth Peace Initiative I travelled with last March in Afghanistan. The boys have made a trip to India and continue to explore what it means to build peace in this world. Catch up on their journey with note and link from Hakim below.

 

 

Dear friends,

The last photo-essay update of our India trip is available at http://ourjourneytosmile.com/blog/2012/01/what-would-gandhi-say-to-afghan-youth-today/

Love,

Hakim and the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers

Thanks to all who made this trip to India possible!

1.     South Asia Peace Alliance http:// http://southasiapeacealliance.weebly.com/

Thanks to Vijay and Rita of South Asia Peace Alliance for inviting, hosting and teaching us!

2.     Ekta Parishad  http://ektaparishad.com/

The team at Bhopal : Aneesh, Lilly, Vinod, Rakesh who organized our field visits in Bhopal

The team in Delhi : Muntajan, Paul, Kathrin and Fran who made our stay in Delhi, Bhopal and India so colourful

3.     Kathy Kelly ( Voices for Creative Non-violence USA http://vcnv.org/ ) and Maya Evans ( Justice not Vengeance UK http://www.j-n-v.org/ )

4.     The Oasis Program facilitators and participants, including teachers and students of Gandhinagar International School

Liberty and Justice for All…

This past week held two important events. On Jan. 11 there was a vigil calling for the closing of Guantanamo and the use of indefinite detention and on Jan. 12 there was a city council hearing on a resolution to declare Chicago a “torture free city.”

This year, 2012, marks ten years of Guantanamo being open and indefinite detention being a practice. Currently just fewer than 200 men remain in the prison with no access to due process. If current practice continues these men could be held until their own deaths having never been accused of a crime or afforded an opportunity to defend themselves in a court of law.

This year also marks over 30 years of struggle to bring accountability to police officers on the south side of Chicago who used torture to extract confessions from suspects. Over 200 African-American men, some as young as 14, were beaten, shocked with electric cattle prods, put through mock executions, and placed in stress positions by Chicago police to extract fake confessions and ensure higher convictions rates.  Many of these men went on to serve over 20 years in prison for crimes they did not commit.

Both of these events shared a common link: justice is a core piece of our identity as a democracy and human community. When we remove, compromise, exploit, or block justice we lose the balance of power between government and citizen – between law officer and community member – between nation and citizen of another land. And when that balance of power is gone – then we cease to be a democracy and we edge towards the abusive power regimes that stand infamous in human history.

The vigil and the hearing on the city council resolution provided the space to take back a piece of that lost democracy, the lost balance of power by honoring the victims and calling for accountability. Check out the photos below and the link to an article explaining more about the resolution.

http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=198382

Vigil to close Guantanamo

Mary L Johnson mother of police torture survivor

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