Models of Hope

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

Today’s passage from Isaiah describes a feast that might be celebrated when all fear and violence leaves the world. The people in Colombia must feel this joy after so many years of civil war. There is finally a peace treaty between the government and FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.  Over fifty years, as many as 6.8 million Colombians have been displaced because of this conflict. Innocent people experienced child recruitment into FARC and other groups, abductions, and crimes of sexual violence.   Although some progress with peace talks has been made, guerrilla and paramilitary groups close to the government continue to terrorize civilians.

In addition to the violence associated with the guerilla groups and the government, there is the violence that comes from the drug trade. Coco is a primary and lucrative crop for many of the farmers in Colombia and while the government has tried for years to irradiate these plants, they continue to be grown. Again, there have been abductions, murders, and sexual violence.

As I read about the trials of the Colombians, my thoughts turned to the impact of this violence on the mothers whose children were abducted in the middle of the night. Imagine not knowing whether your child was alive or dead… for years. Mothers who protest these abductions are called Madres de la Candalaria and they have worked since 1999 to find out what happened to their children and to bring peace to their country. To date, they have documented 1,176 disappearances but have found only 76 bodies.

These brave women join mothers around the world like the Madres de Plaza de Mayo in Argentina, the Ladies in White in Cuba, the Saturday Mothers in Turkey and the Mourning Mothers in Iran who hold governments accountable for finding their lost children.

Their nonviolent witness is a model for us today.  We are also called to be a peaceful but constant reminder to end the injustice, incivility, and violence present in our world. Today, and all month, let us keep the people of Colombia, especially the Madres, in our prayers that God will wipe the tears from their eyes and destroy the veil of violence that covers them.  Let us pray that peace will come and stay in their country.

Posted in News, Weekly Word

The Earthy Home of Jesus

Blog by Sr. Mai Dung Nguyen

This year, we experienced historical natural disasters: hurricanes causing many people to die or relocate; earthquakes in Mexico and at the border region between Iran and Iraq killing hundreds of people and destroying houses; and the giant wild fires in California adding to another level of suffering for all of God’s creatures. In addition, these climate change issues forced many people to become homeless involuntarily or to live under the poverty level.

We used to think baby Jesus stayed in a cave as the result of superstitious beliefs. However, with what has happened this year because of the climate change issues, I realize that being born and staying in a cave, Jesus claimed the earth, our planet, as his FIRST HOME.  Yet, this first home suffered greatly, resulting in the homelessness and poverty of Jesus’ family.

Promoting the dignity of the earth and working for a healthy environment are ways of promoting, justice, peace, and the quality of life.  We must listen to how the earth is calling us to live and practice what the earth teaches us about changing our way of living so we can prepare a “home” for Jesus.

Our community of Dominican Sisters of Peace strives to make the world a place that is more welcoming, more respectful and sustainable for our planet, less violent and less consuming of Earth’s resources. We serve God in many ways including spiritual direction, justice promotion, education, healthcare, and care for creation. We live a life of peace-making wherever we are and in whatever we do.

If you feel called to live a life of praising and serving God in a wide spectrum of ministries, or if you know someone who wants to live our life as a religious Sister, please contact us vocation@oppeace.org. We also have “Come and See” weekend on March 9-11, 2018 in Columbus, OH.  We can listen and walk with you as you discern the movement of God’s Spirit within you.

 

Posted in God Calling?, News

93 is Too Big a Number

Blog by Justice Promoter Kelly Litt

Sometimes, numbers and statistics are hard to visualize and understand. It’s helpful to have context to numbers to understand the enormity behind them. You might be a little concerned if I told you I ate 93 donuts. Or perhaps you’d be somewhat in disbelief if I said I ran 93 miles yesterday. Luckily for my health, neither of those statements are true, but they do explain how large a number 93 is. It is even larger and more critical of a number when we are speaking about human lives, and the number 93 rings too true in the world of gun violence.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 93 people die every single day from gun violence in the United States. 93 lives lost to gun violence is 93 too many.

A recent New York Times article noted that the United States has 270 million guns; no other country has more than 46 million guns. Isn’t it time we begin to implement some common-sense gun safety policies? Universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons, and a ban on high capacity magazines are common-sense gun safety issues that require legislation.

This month, we remember the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting tragedy that occurred 5 years ago. It’s time we take action to ensure no person, no child, is ever harmed again by gun violence. With the recent shootings, it is clear the status quo is not working. More and more individuals are harmed, and killed, by guns. We need legislators to take action and create changes to save lives!

As in years past, the Dominican Sisters of Peace will be participating in the National Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Week (December 6-17). The Peace and Nonviolence Committee offers this prayer resource to use at Motherhouses, Associate groups, parishes, and through personal prayer and meditation. Let’s work toward peace and toward changing the 93 lives lost per day to 0.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

IF YOU CAN’T HELP OTHERS, AT LEAST DO THEM NO HARM

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

A recent tweet posted by the Dalia Lama truly resonated with me:

“What is important is not so much how long you live as whether you live a meaningful life. This doesn’t mean accumulating money and fame, but being of service to your fellow human beings. It means helping others if you can, but even if you can’t do that, at least not harming them.”

At first my focus leaned heavily toward living a meaningful life and being of service to and helping others. But as I lived with this tweet for about a week, the latter part “but even if you can’t do that, at least not harming them” took on a new, more powerful meaning.

That significance began taking shape after I read news accounts about 10-year-old Ashawnty Davis. I began to wonder if Ashawnty would still be alive if someone had a commitment to not doing harm to another human being.

It pains me to know that a 10-year-old was so tormented that she walked into a closet in her Colorado home and hanged herself. According to news reports, Ashawnty died of an apparent suicide after a video of her fighting with an alleged bully outside her elementary school was posted online. She died last Wednesday, after spending two weeks on life support.

The day before Ashawnty died, 13-year-old Rosalie Avila, hanged herself in her bedroom at her California home. Her parents said that she was the victim of relentless bullying at her middle school. News accounts say that she left behind a letter of apology, in which she described herself as “ugly” and “a loser.”

I can’t begin to imagine how Rosalie and Ashawnty’s parents are dealing with the grief of losing their daughters, of being with them in the hospital during their final hours, and of finding them clinging to life in their homes.

Yet in the midst of their agony, they are crying out to help prevent another child from being pushed to the brink by a bully. They say their daughters’ deaths should and could have been avoided, if the bullying had been dealt with.

Rosalie’s father’s message was clear: “Think about what you say before you say it because your words are going to hurt somebody…All these things that people say…all the horrible things…it has an effect.”

Ashawnty’s parents are calling it “bullycide” and want to raise awareness that children are taking their lives due to bullying.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people and youth who report both being bullied and bullying others have the highest rates of negative mental health outcomes, including depression, anxiety, and thinking about suicide.

What I know is two beautiful young girls are no longer with us because they apparently were seeking a way to escape the pain of a situation that seemed impossible for them to deal with.

I have a need to believe that Ashawnty and Rosalie left a meaningful mark on the world. I believe that during their short lives, they brought joy and happiness to those they touched.

But I can’t help but wonder, if they would still be with us had someone taken heed to the words of the Dalai Lama to at least do no harm to others?

I wonder how many of us can live out the message of Rosalie’s father — to think before we speak or act to ensure that our words and actions are helping others and not harming them?

Posted in Associate Blog, News

What Makes a Budget Moral?

Blog by Sr. Roberta Miller, OP

What makes a budget moral? What is the responsibility of government in drafting a budget? Currently the issues of morality and responsibility swirl around the US and our global world. Why? Is it because of the extensive disparities in economics between those who have a good life and those who do not in the US and in so many other countries? Is it because of the natural and human disasters plaguing our world with politicians apparently powerless?

Morality can be defined as a particular system of values and principles of conduct held by a society such as honesty, integrity, honor and justice. Do the denials, cuts or repeals for programs as the Affordable Care Act, Clean Power Plan, Paris Climate Accord, EPA rules for clean water, air or land as in the Keystone XL or Dakota Access pipelines reflect such values?

The role of the state in public spending should be directed to the common good based upon these pillars: “respect for the fundamental and inalienable rights of the human person, promotion of human development and defense of peace.” Taxes and public spending are tools for uplifting and developing all members of a country’s population. All of us have gifts and skills to hone and share for the well-being of the whole. We also have needs in our society to be able to exercise our gifts and skills—education, health, meaningful work and supportive agencies, private and public. Personal and social responsibilities round out a society’s common good goal for wellness of earth and ourselves. Why then do politicians give the middle class all the attention as being in need when all working and non-working members of society deserve help.

Of the proposed federal 2017 budget: 54% is for the military; 3% for social security, labor, unemployment; 6% for education; 7% for veterans; 1% for food, agriculture; 2% transportation; 3% science; and 4% energy and environment. The moral system for this budget is violence—not in people or the earth, upon which we live, work and love.

Sources: USCCB letters of August 31 and November 7, 2017

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 2006

Proposed Presidential budget for 2017 (Obama’s)

Posted in Just Reflecting