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

Posts tagged ‘peace and justice’

From Afghanistan: making running and playing the norm

I landed in Afghanistan last week to continue my work with the Afghan Peace Volunteers. It has been a wonderful first week here. Being with the volunteers again and learning of their lives and hopes and struggles at this time. I wanted to share a simple story with you to give a picture of Afghanistan that I think is forgotten.
We are staying in a sweet little house in an area of Kabul near their university. Many of the professors live on this same street. The houses have big fences around them. This is a tradition as well as a security measure. The fences are made of corrugated metal and have big doors.
Most folks leave their doors open. So people can pass through and say hello and such. There is a family across from us who has four kids between the ages of six and two.
They run in and out of our yard and seem to enjoy a game of pretend vandalism. They take things and draw with chalk on the walls and sidewalks.
The peace volunteers pretend mock outrage and despair and the kids laugh wildly all the more. They are sweet and funny and a little wild and remind me so much of my own nieces and nephews at home.
It has been a gift to see them play while I am here. A good reminder of why a better future must be built for all kids around the world. Surely each child deserves more than war, poverty, environmental destruction and intolerance.
The Afghan Peace Volunteers are working hard to make sure these children might know a childhood different then their own. After more than thirty years of war they hope these kids will reach 18 and not be living with the scars of war on their hearts. They hope their work will help Afghanistan become a place where running and playing are the norm instead of suffering and loss.
I am blessed to be here and carry with me all the grace and support of the FSPA community.
Thank you and Peace.

International Peace Day Continued:Become One of 2 Million Friends

Last week many of you celebrated  International Peace Day. Below is a great opportunity to continue the work and the celebration. The members of Afghan Youth Peace Initiative, the boys I visited in Afghanistan, have created a new campaign for peace. They are trying to create “two million” friends to mark the roughly two million civilians who have been killed in civil conflicts and the U.S. invasion.

This act is simple and yet it helps to create a global network that says: “We believe that all people have the right to live in peace.”

Be One of ‘2 Million Friends’! for peace in Afghanistan

Join the ‘2 Million Friends’ Campaign.


Farzana, 22 year old Afghan stage actress, and a member of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, said, “When I express the whole range of emotions on stage, I enter an awareness, and a thrilling consciousness of human reality. I have a pain and my husband and fellow Afghan citizens, men and women, share the pain with me. It is the pain of being treated as less than humans. We are human beings. We have wishes. War has brought this pain on us. War kills our joy and hides our tears.”

Farzana calls out to our compassionate imagination, “Instead of fight, talk and build, I suggest, ‘Be friends, talk and build!’”

Listen to Farzana and the Afghan Peace Volunteers say in this video clip “Be One of 2 Million Friends!”

 Why ‘2 Million Friends’?

2 million Afghan victims of war were killed over the past four decades. We wish to remember them by finding 2 million friends, to call for a ceasefire in Afghanistan. More friends! No more war. No more killing.

Help Farzana and the Afghan Peace Volunteers find those friends : Visit http://2millionfriends.org

1. Be a Friend!

(a)     Email “ I’m One of 2 Million Friends!” to befriends@2millionfriends.org

(b)     Communicate : Email, Facebook and Twitter

(c)      Listen : Global Days of Listening conversations with Afghans & people from conflict areas

(d)     Upload photos and video clips of friendship

2.  Help them find 2 million friends: Email, Facebook and Tweet this far and wide to all your friends!

3. Support their call for a ceasefire : Sign a letter to the U.N. for a ceasefire  

The letterwill be ‘presented’ to the U.N. office in Kabul on the International Day of Human Rights, December 10th, 2012.

4.  Host or join concurrent, solidarity events on Dec 10th, 2012

An event will be held in Kabul on December 10th , 2012and attended by ordinary Afghans and Afghan civil society groups, Dr Sima Samar ( Chairperson of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission ), Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mairead Maguire and others.

You can host or join concurrent, solidarity events on December 10th , 2012in your own communities and countries, to remember the 2 million Afghan victims of war in various ways e.g. releasing doves, flying kites, displaying banners, lighting candles etc.,

5. Consider participating in Dec 2012 visit to Afghanistan or a fast in New York

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?

This blog is all yours.

Hello all. Guest blogger here, Jane Comeau from FSPA Communications. As this blog nears its first birthday, we want to thank you, our readers. We thank you for supporting the blog (it’s nearing 5,000 visits!). We thank you for joining the conversation and commenting on issues such as health care, immigration and free trade

This week, we open the FSPA for Justice and Peace blog to you. What’s on your mind? What blog topics would you like to see in year two? How can we make your blog better?


Celebrate International Women’s Day

Dear All-  I am grateful to have this opportunity to be a guest blogger this week for the FSPA Justice and Peace blog. My name is Erin Cox and I currently work as a staff member at 8th Day Center for Justice.  I came to 8th Day almost two years ago in June as an intern with the Loyola University of Chicago’s Master’s in Social Justice Program. Liz is my mentor at the Center, and it has been a great honor to learn and work with her, as well as with the rest of the 8th Day staff who share an abundance of wisdom and dedication to peace and justice.


I would like to take this time to recognize International Women’s Day celebrated this past Sunday, March 8, 2009.  On this day, hundreds of events around the world recognized and celebrated the social, political and economic achievements of women. The first International Women’s Day took place in 1911, which was put forward by a woman named Clara Zetkin, a member of the Socialist Democratic Party in Germany. Zetkin proposed that in every country around the world, there should be a celebration of women on the same day—a women’s day—to press demands for the rights of women. The day turned out to be a huge success, and has been a part of our history ever since.


An international initiative of organizations, governments and women’s groups choose a theme to reflect the reality of women’s issues on a local and global context. For 2009, the United Nations focused on the theme: Women and Men United to End Violence against Women and Girls. How powerful and important it is to recognize and celebrate the strength of women who have walked before us, and to call attention the issue of violence against women on a multitude of levels. This violence is not limited to physical violence against women, but extends to economic, political, sexual, and societal levels, very much alive within all aspects of our lives today. We live in a world where 80 percent of the world’s 27 million refugees are women; where 530,000 women die in pregnancy or childbirth each year; and where women do two-thirds of the world’s work, but receive only ten percent of the world’s income. (Source: Reuters AlterNet).  It is certain that women suffer the full impacts of the world’s poverty and experience tremendous suffering during times of crisis—natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, or famine, or wars such as the recent tragedy in Gaza and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.


As a response to the disproportionate level of violence against women across the world the United Nations adopted The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (or CEDAW) in 1979. This treaty provides the most comprehensive universal standard of human rights for women addressing discrimination in areas of education, politics, reproductive health, finance and law. According to Amnesty International, a total of 185 countries around the world have ratified this treaty as of 2007. However, the United States continues to remain one of the only countries in the Western Hemisphere to have not signed on to this treaty. In the United Statesthe passage of the CEDAW treaty would require two-thirds, or sixty seven senatorial votes.  We must call upon our senators and new administration to take further steps to support women to achieve full protection and realization of their rights. I will provide links to take further action on the CEDAW initiative below.


International Women’s Day is an important reminder of the long journey through the desert that women continue to travel.  However, this journey has been walked by many women who have the faith and courage to continue the struggle. We commemorate the strong, brave women who have walked the journey before us, whose efforts for justice and equal rights plant the seeds for the future of women and serve as gifts to the world. We remember those women in biblical times; Sarah, who answered God’s call with Abraham to take a leap of faith to ensure a covenant with God, and all women religious who speak out for justice and against corruption in the church and inequality throughout the world. We remember women whose brave witness has led to great risks, including prison, torture and death. During this most sacred season of Lent, let us continue to renew our faith in order to gain strength for our own journey through the desert. Grant us the courage to follow the footsteps of those women before us who challenge us to grow and speak out for justice on behalf of all women in the world. 


Thank you for this opportunity and blessings on this special day of women!


Erin E. Cox


To read more about the International Day of Women please see: http://tiny.cc/uAxxa


To learn more about the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) please see: http://tiny.cc/3hR7w

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