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

Posts tagged ‘Liz Deligio’

Memory and Resistance

I was able to participate in a march and direct action to close the School of the Americas this weekend in Washington D.C. It was amazing to be there while the entire country was watching the debate on the “budget crisis” go down and never once hear a single congress person talk about cutting military spending.

Over 70 million dollars a year could be saved by closing the School of the Americas let alone the human lives home and abroad that would thrive with less military intervention and spending.

We gathered as a group at Dupont Circle and marched with  an artist collective that had made puppets honoring the resistance of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo. Led by the grandmother puppet we walked to the White House and 27 of us laid down in a “die in” front of the White House to symbolize the death and destruction that comes from the School.

We prostrated ourselves and begged from the heart to stop funding the military training that has led to torture, disappearances, death, dictatorships and the destruction of whole economies in Latin America.

The National Park Police who have jurisdiction over the sidewalk in front the White House arrested us for failing to obey a police order to move. We felt that by staying we could call – even if only for a moment – the attention of the White House and our Congress to the importance of the issue and give them a way to save money without cutting schools, health care or PBS!

It was an honor to take a step of resistance and hold up the memory and resistance of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo as we called to close it down. Click on the link below and you can see the puppets, march and even the arrests!


p.s. A quick note about my arrest: an arrest for civil disobedience is handled very quickly. I was held in a room (not in a jail cell) for about two hours and paid a small fine ($100) before my release.

The power to tell the story…

In the last few weeks we have all watched as a firestorm of reform works its way through the middle east, centered of course in Egypt. We are seeing many images that frame the situation in Egypt as volatile and violent. We are being told a  story of a thirty year dictatorship and  many faceted social movement in sound bytes that take minutes.

The reporting has been OK given mainstream media bias but it misses an important question: Will a dictatorship, even a crumbling one really let the whole world into its world?

Rachel Maddow takes a few minutes more to look at how the story of Egypt is being told and why it is so important. Watch the video and continue to journey with those seeking peace and democracy in Egypt!


Crossing the line: School of the Americas trial

Tomorrow, January 5, 2011, SOA Watch activists Nancy Smith from New York and Chris Spicer from Illinois will appear in federal court in Columbus, Georgia. They will stand trial for crossing the line during the 2010 November vigil to close the School of the Americas (renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation).

The two carried the protest against the SOA atrocities onto the Fort Benning military base. They now face up to six months in federal prison for their courageous act of nonviolent civil disobedience.

Nancy and Chris will use the courtroom to put the SOA itself on trial and to take a stand against the SOA, torture, militarization and oppressive U.S. foreign policy in Latin America.

The presiding judge, Stephen Hyles, sentenced two other human rights advocates last November to the maximum allowed prison sentence for the same action. Father Louis Vitale and David Omondi, who also crossed onto the base during the November vigil are each currently serving six months prison sentences.

Please write to our Prisoners of Conscience David and Father Louis and send Nancy and Chris good thoughts, strength, courage and love as they speak truth to power in the Georgia Middle District Court tomorrow.

The Imperius Curse strikes our government

Anyone who is a fan of Harry Potter has heard of the Imperius Curse. It is a curse that when cast on a person will put that person completely under the control of  whoever gave the curse. This person now under the Imperius will do whatever the person controlling him or her wishes (while the person under the curse believes he or she is still in control).

I can only guess that a massive Imperius Curse has taken over the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of government in the past year. There are really too many examples to list but the latest of the extension of tax cuts to the very wealthy plus the denial of the DREAM Act seem to point to  forces at play that can have nothing to do with plain common sense or the slightest moral sensibility.

Instead we are faced with arguments that distort facts and place a new “cultural” purity on the table. What makes America “America” and Americans “Americans” is a very narrow list of credentials that is defined by a few, a very few from a very conservative slant. In this America the wealthy are victims, migrants are terrorists, corporations are people with first amendment rights, the Gulf is clean  and war is a state of being necessary for true patriotism.

Clearly a case of the Imperius Curse.

In the Harry Potter stories a person can resist the curse. The curse and its impact of  erasing  personhood and replacing it with a mindless following of commands can be prevented. To resist the curse, one must show great moral fortitude and courage. The person resisting the curse must believe so strongly in what they know to be right that the pressure to give up critical thought and moral inquiry can be overcome.

Gandhi, while not a reader of Harry Potter, had a similar concept  only he called it soul-force.  Soul-force is the force within us that gives us the strength and courage to stand up, no matter the consequences, for what we believe in and to struggle for those beliefs. This is not a private struggle for Gandhi or indeed Potter. It is a public one taking on the cultural sphere that roots the lies that are the mark of the Imperius Curse. We must not only believe but act and act publicly to create a wider space for more and more people to engage soul-force and resist the Imperious Curse.

In our final week of Advent it seems most appropriate to spend some time with soul-force. To look into the heart of the longest night of the year, December 21, and imagine what should welcome the dawn. Undocumented youth allowed to flourish? Millions of new, well paid jobs for the unemployed? The end of the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan?

What would greet your dawn? What calls on your soul-force?

Gathering in Peace: SOA Vigil

So we gathered from all across the country some even from other countries to begin our vigil, our presence at the gates of Ft. Benning.

We gathered together to hear the testimony of survivors, the stories of those who are currently in the struggle and the poetry and music of many groups of resistance.

The stories from stage reminded us of why we gather. We heard of the human rights violations, the stolen land, the communities broken by militarization, and the fear created by oppression.

We also heard of creative resistance, alternative economies, loving rebuilding of communities. It was a day of energizing grace.

As we left the space, the police attitude changed. There were aggressive arrests,  as people tried to make their way to their cars. Theirs was an attitude of control and suspicion that was the antithesis of the nonviolent open space that had been created by the community.

This is our struggle, how do we create change when speaking out is seen as threat? When calling for justice is seen as violent? How do we walk our road?

The day teaches that we walk it together, we walk it in peace, we walk it because this is who we are called to be.

Coming to Georgia: SOA Vigil

Watching everyone come into town for the SOA vigil is one of the best parts of the weekend. You see folks from all over pull up in busses and cars, they spill out in lobbies and restaurants, and everyone is greeted like an old friend.

We begin immediately to build a new space. A space that is not dependent on power or privilege but rather a space that thrives on creative open relationship. A radical idea that community exists in each of us (like breath) and we are able even in a crowd of thousands to say we, in this moment, are one.

It is always a joy to me each year to watch this space open over the days of the weekend. To watch as all the elements of organizing come together and the key ingredient of the people arrive and gently like a bloom another world rises before our eyes.

I think of Francis and how he did this everyday. He held open space for a radical loving community and watched as a different world bloomed before his eyes. A world built on the foundations of trust, love and complete equity. We carry on, grateful for our inheritance from this particular peacemaker.

We are here, working to build that world and I will do my best through this blog to have the world bloom for you, too! Many blessings and much gratitude for the support of the FSPA community!

p.s. I’ve learned that the FSPA sponsored bus has left La Crosse, Wis., and is headed for Georgia.

This picture was captured this morning as the Franciscan Sisters blessed the students before they boarded the bus!

FSPA bless the students departing for the SOA Vigil.



Memory and Resistance! 21st annual School of the Americas Watch Vigil

This week I leave for Columbus, Georgia, to join the vigil at the gates of Ft. Benning.  We will gather to remember and resist as we approach the 30th anniversary of the four women who were killed in El Salvador.  We will gather to celebrate and commemorate  as we move forward with the challenge of creating full peace with justice.

This year I will blog each of the days leading up to the vigil. I invite you to journey with the School of the Americas Watch Movement as we ready to Close It Down (subscribe if you want to get my posts right in your inbox)! To get us started I would like to offer the following excerpt from a letter by Ita Ford, M.M. to her niece.

A Letter from Ita to her niece

Dear Jennifer,

The odds that this note will arrive for your birthday are poor, but know I’m with you in spirit as you celebrate 16 big ones…

What I want to say…some of it isn’t too jolly birthday talk, but it’s real…yesterday I stood looking down at a 16-year-old who had been killed a few hours earlier. I know lots of kids even younger who are dead.  This is a terrible time in El Salvador for youth. A lot of idealism and commitment is getting snuffed out here now…

Brooklyn is not passing through the drama of El Salvador, but some things hold true wherever one is at, and at whatever age. What I am saying is, I hope you come to find that which gives life a deep meaning for you…something worth living for, maybe even worth dying for…something that energizes you, enthuses you, enables you to keep moving ahead. I can’t tell you what it might be – that is for you to find, to choose, to love.

I can just encourage you to start looking and support you in the search. Maybe this sounds weird and off-the-wall, and maybe, no one else will talk to you like this, but then, too, I am seeing and living things others around you are not.

I want to say to you: don’t waste the gifts and opportunities you have to make yourself and other people happy…I hope this does not sound like some kind of sermon because I do not mean it that way. Rather, it is something you learn here, and I want to share it with you.

In fact it is my birthday present to you. If it does not make sense right at this moment, keep this and read it sometime from now. Maybe it will be clearer.

A very happy birthday to you and much, much love…Ita

Ita Ford, Presente!

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