Pace e Bene is hosting a conference – Blessed are the Peacemakers: A Conference and Training on Nonviolence. Click here for more details about the conference held in Huntington, Indiana from July 28-July 29.
Members of Congress have introduced a bipartisan bill named for American abolitionist Frederick Douglass that would seek to curb human trafficking. To read more, click here.
Action Alert from Network: Americans overwhelmingly agree that Congress must act to stop prescription drug corporations from gouging consumers with high prices on the medicines they need to lead healthy and productive lives. Click here to urge your Members of Congress to support the “Improving Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs Act.”
From Catholic Climate Covenant: A decision on whether the United States will remain in the Paris Agreement on Climate Change will happen any day. You have the chance to ensure we do. Please take a moment to send this letter to President Trump, your US Representative, and your US Senators.
From Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good: Women are 51% of the United States population. Yet there are 14 men and zero women on the working group that is drafting the Senate bill on health care. We demand equal representation for this bill. Women represent more than half the population of the U.S. and deserve to be represented in the working group writing the health care legislation. Will call your Senators today at (202) 224-3121 and demand that the Senate working group on health care add six women and remove seven men so there is equal representation?
The Peace Farm, outside Amarillo, TX, began 33 years ago as a place where people could gather to prepare activities in regard to the ongoing witness against the world annihilating work of the Pantex Plant nearby. That is where all the nuclear weapons of the US are assembled. People also lived on the 20-acre farm for about 25 years as a continual witness to the death plant nearby. I’m sure huge numbers of people would witness against a place that was built only for abortions. Yet here is an assembly plant that only exists to abort the whole world and few notice or care. It is the most anti-life place possible.
We sold all but one acre, and now the “Peace Farm” consists of 5 people on a Board that continues the witness as possibilities arise. We are part of the ANA (Alliance for Nuclear Accountability—look at the website if you want to know more), which consists of about 35 organizations throughout the country, most grouped around other nuclear plants of various kinds, having to do with bombs or power. The ANA meets 2 times a year, once in the fall and once in the spring in Washington, DC, to lobby Congress about nuclear weapons and the various programs and money involved. The ANA has been working on the whole nuclear issue for over 25 years, and many are experts in various fields and also experienced in nuclear issues, who therefore know more than many government people who come and go more often.
I came to Amarillo in 1987, to be involved with the Peace Farm and ANA as much as I could. From the selling of most of our land, our Board has enough money to send someone to the DC spring lobbying days, so I’m going this year for the first time. Please pray for me and all of us as we try to make government people aware of the great dangers of building new nukes and having them on hair-triggers for a long period of time. There have been many mistakes made, some almost starting a nuclear war. I think this our greatest security problem, much greater than terrorism, but I seem to be in a small minority. If you have any ideas about any of this that might help me/us, please let me know.
[The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA) will be gathering in Washington DC from May 19-26. Associate Jerry Stein, who has been active in Peace and Justice events for many years, says: “I’m going for the ANA spring meeting and lobbying against nuclear weapons. It’s going to be even more important this year, as you can imagine.” Please keep Jerry and the Alliance in your prayers.]
Sometimes, I see or hear or read something that makes me wonder: “What kind of crazy, mixed up world do we live in?”
It happened again last week, when I read several news reports about Stephen Mader, a former police officer who says he was fired because he chose not to shoot and kill a 23-year-old man whom he assessed as being suicidal, during a domestic disturbance call.
“He didn’t appear angry or aggressive. He seemed depressed. As a Marine vet that served in Afghanistan and as an active member of the National Guard, all my training told me he was not a threat to others or me. Because of that, I attempted to de-escalate the situation. I was just doing my job,” Mader said during an interview with CNN.
Apparently, Mader responded to a call around 2 a.m. on May 6, 2016, about a man threatening to hurt himself with a knife.
When he arrived on the scene, he encountered a 23-year-old man, who had his hands behind his back. After ordering the man, several times, to show his hands, he complied, revealing a silver handgun in his right hand.
Mader pulled his service revolver and ordered the man to drop his weapon. The man replied “I can’t do that. Just shoot me.”
Convinced that the man was trying to commit “suicide by cop,” Mader responded “I’m not going to shoot you brother” and continued to plead with the young father to drop the gun. As two other officers arrived, the man reportedly began waving his weapon and was shot dead by one of the other officers.
An investigation into the shooting – which deemed the use of deadly force justifiable — found that the man’s gun was unloaded.
It seems that Mader made the right decision in trying to de-escalate the situation. But his assessment cost him his job as a police officer – he was fired about a month after the deadly shooting because he “failed to eliminate a threat.”
In this day and age, when police officers have kept their jobs despite brutality, corruption, harassment, and questionable circumstances in the use of deadly force, an officer who seemingly shows compassion and takes the time to see others as human beings gets fired?
From my vantage point, there is something wrong with this picture.
Mader (who happens to be a Marine who identified IED’s in the warzone of Afghanistan so that they could be disarmed without harming our troops or the communities they were in) is the kind of cop that I want on the streets – one who fully assesses a problem and uses his/her skill to resolve the problem; one who is compassionate and values life; one who knows how to use critical thinking to gauge whether he/she is in imminent danger; one who operates with calm and poise.
Although the deadly shooting of the 23-year-old African-American man and firing of Mader, a then 24-year-year-old white police officer (and young father himself) occurred last year, the story made national headlines last week because Mader is now suing the Weirton, West Virginia police department that fired him for wrongful termination.
For me, Mader’s story reveals some problems in our criminal justice system. Is there something wrong with a culture that punishes an officer who shows restraint and rewards behavior that results in death and destruction?
Shouldn’t we expect those who put on a uniform and a badge and commit to protecting and serving our communities to respect the sanctity of life?
Mader’s words reveal that he saw more than a suicidal man begging him to shoot. He saw his brother, standing before him, hurting and in distress. He then decided to try to peacefully resolve the situation.
I think Mader handled things the right way. I respect his judgement. I applaud his ability to see others as members of his human family. I commend him for standing up for what he believes is right.
“In the simple moral maxim, the Marine Corps teaches — do the right thing, for the right reason — no exception exists that says: unless there’s criticism or risk.”
― Josh Rushing (Mission Al-Jazeera: Build a Bridge, Seek the Truth, Change the World)
Simple words. Yet, they hold powerful messages that can have a life-altering impact on our relationships with each other. How often do we stop our busyness and give our undivided attention to another? How often do we look at each other and truly see the other person? How often do we hear beyond the words and listen with our heart? How often are we present to the moment, not letting the moment slip by and missing the gifts we can not only give to each other but also receive from each other? How do you feel when someone looks you in the eye and extends a simple hello, a smile, a nod that acknowledges your being?
Life doesn’t have to be complicated if we remember the simple things to stop, look, listen, and be present to ourselves, to each other, and, in turn, to the Divine.
Sometimes I think we forget how important we are to each other. Or how we impact each other when we forget the simple things like acknowledging each other and listening to each other’s stories or reaching out with an affirming word or touching gesture. We can become so absorbed in where we are that we forget to see and hear each other. In so doing, we can miss an opportunity to be Christ-like with each other.
So let’s make it a practice to STOP what we are doing on occasion and spend time being with ourselves and with each other. Let’s LOOK more often to where we are and BE PRESENT in the moment to ourselves and to each other. As we STOP, LOOK, and are PRESENT to each other, we might delight in LISTENING to God’s Spirit within us and around us.
Last June, I wrote a blog called Making Peace with the Past. Many comments and nods of affirmation happened after it was published, so I guess it hit a nerve. In it, I referenced comedian Lily Tomlin who is attributed with saying: Forgiveness is “letting go of every hope for a better past.”
I said then that wanting the past to be better is what keeps us tied to past pain and hurt. How do I let go of every hope for a better past, or let go of better behavior on my part or on the part of another person? This is a big question for most of us. Part of the problem is that sometimes the past still does damage today. This is what leads me to revisit the subject. Continue reading →