Real Talk

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

I’m trying to be civil, but it is becoming increasingly difficult.

I’m trying to accept that some people simply don’t know what they don’t know; but sometimes I think they don’t want to know?

I’m sorry – not sorry – that if one more (white) person tells me that navigating this issue of systemic racism is exhausting and uncomfortable, I may “lose my religion” (you can ask one of your southern friends to translate, if you don’t know what this means).

Please be assured that your discomfort does not mean that you are in danger. And it can’t begin to compare to the “discomfort” (which could be related to actual danger) that Black and brown folks experience each and every day. And don’t even get me started about the exhaustion.

Anyway, while I pause to restore a little decorum, I have given some inquirers a few things to ponder/research:

  • The Civil Rights Movement never ended.
  • Racism is systemic (but that doesn’t exempt individuals from being racist).
  • America was founded on genocide, slavery, and oppression.
  • We are still dealing with the lasting effects of slavery and America’s (fictional) view on race.
  • Forty-one slave owners signed the document declaring “all men are created equal.”
  • Abraham Lincoln declared that “there is a physical difference between the white and black races” which “will forever forbid the two races from living together on terms of social and political equality.”
  • White supremacy is not confined to cross-burnings, lynchings, and using the n-word.
  • Black folks and white folks have been taught the same revisionist history.
  • Black and brown lives have been minimized in a number of ways, including redlining, the war on drugs, gerrymandering, the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, accessing quality healthcare and securing equitable educational opportunities.
  • Black and brown people are still fighting for their full humanity.

And if that isn’t enough, help me answer this question: Why do white folks want to jump over the hard personal work of mitigating the impact of white supremacy to get to (half-baked) “solutions”?

Posted in Associate Blog

What is God Asking of You During this Pandemic?

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

As this pandemic wears on, I’m beginning to feel restless and want it to be over.  I suspect I’m not alone in feeling this way.  On the positive side, maybe now is a good time to ask what lessons am I learning from this pandemic?  What is God asking of me, from me, at this time, in this moment? How can I use this time to deepen my relationship with God, with self, and with others?

Clearly, we are not living in contented times. I believe we are being called to go into the eye of the present storm, with God at our side and with faith in ourselves and each other, to address the many systemic problems of our times. We must listen to the still small voice within ourselves that calls us to dig deep to find ways to understand and respond to the issues that are before us. We have reached a pinnacle in either responding to or refraining from the problems that plague us.  Do we take a step forward or backwards?  Do we take a step into the arena or out of the arena?  Do we proceed with fear or with compassion?

Perhaps one lesson we can learn from this pandemic is to slow down and to be in communion with God in whatever way we find God and where God can find us. We need to nurture and ready ourselves for the journey ahead. Our mission now is to prepare ourselves to be peacemakers, to be truth-tellers (preachers), to be healers and messengers of hope, to be advocates who stand with the persecuted, marginalized, and those denied their full humanity and dignity as God’s creation.

Every generation has faced challenges, some more dire and pivotal than others.  What will be our response individually and communally? Will we be a force to be reckoned with in pursuing the truth and justice that has evaded the marginalized for years?  How do you see and hear God calling you amid the many issues before us?

Are you hearing a nudge from God to be part of a faith community that is devoted to fostering a deep relationship with God and that strives to respond to the needs of the times?  Do you want to dedicate your life to serving God’s people and to understanding and carrying out God’s will? If you feel called to explore life as a religious sister, we invite you to contact us to begin a conversation.

Posted in God Calling?

Do I Know What I Don’t Know?

Sr. Pat Thomas, OP
Blog by Sr. Pat Thomas, OP

Tired of all that talk about racism? Pretty understandable since we’ve been talking and fighting about it for maybe 400 years. Some things you never get tired of talking and hearing about like your best friend’s wedding; the day you met your future husband; your Final Profession day; the worst day of your life; the storm that destroyed your house; the death of a son or daughter, a parent, a best friend, a sibling; and always when the folks get together someone will say “Remember when?”.

Unfortunately the stories of racism in our country, in our neighborhoods, in our Congregation and among our Associates are ever ancient, ever new. We hear the stories and shake our heads and ask ourselves, how can this be? When will we get over this, past this?

I have no answer except to look in the mirror. I am full of questions. Do I know what white privilege really means yet? Is it the same as white supremacy? What do I really believe about men and women and children of other races? I grew up learning about the good guys in the white hats versus those heathen Indians and the slaves revolting against the people who gave them work and shelter, who helped our country to thrive.

So what has happened to me? I learned more, and it wasn’t all good. Now when I try to retell the stories with more information and a different perspective, I risk being told I hate my country and I am rewriting its grand history. Really? What’s so grand about the Trail of Tears or the Tulsa Massacre or Eminent Domain? I will apologize for events like those and so many others, but I can’t change that they happened. So, what can I do?

All the information was out there, but some people hoped we wouldn’t find it.I’ve googled lots of books and out of print tomes on the subject, so I know now that they existed, but they just were not available to all of us, nor did some of us want to read them. But it is time. Read some James Baldwin from the 60s and 70s. Check out W.E.B. DuBois. Reflect more deeply on the writings of Martin Luther King, JR. There are many more titles and authors that I am sure you could all name. But the most fascinating aspect of it all is that if you hold up the books from those days next to the books from these days—–we might have some serious cases for plagiarism or déjà vu or “didn’t I just read that?”. The never ending story continues to unfold and we are at some pretty critical places in our country’s history. Seek the truth or follow in ignorance are just a couple of the choices we can make. I hope I can make the right one.

Posted in Weekly Word

Peace and Justice Updates, 7.22.2020

Nevada Desert Experience
The Nevada Desert Experience has educated thousands of people about the related issues of nuclear testing. Members gather at the Nevada Test Site for vigil, religious services, and nonviolent civil disobedience. NDE’s organizing seeks to honor all of God’s creation and the Beloved Community as we bear witness to sixty years of nuclear destruction. To read their newsletter, click here.

Tell Congress to Support Refugees During COVID-19
The social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are devastating, and vulnerable communities are experiencing the worst of the virus. You can help support refugees and others on the move living in crowded settlements with little access to clean water and soap, space to social distance, and other basic needs.

Urge your members of Congress to provide at least $12 billion in funding for the international response to prevent, prepare and respond to COVID-19 around the world.

As negotiations continue on the next COVID-19 emergency aid package, your voice is needed so your members of Congress hear from their voters. Click here to send your letter through the USCCB website.

Posted in Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Recovering the Common Good

Blog by Justice Promoter Sister Judy Morris, OP

“There is nothing in the world more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”                                                     Martin Luther King, Jr.

Many of us grew up driving and riding in cars with no seat belts. But as cars got faster and more powerful, roads improved, and the number of people driving and miles driven continued to climb, the number of highway deaths became unacceptable.

In 1968, the installation of seat belts in all passenger vehicles became law. Today, 34 states have primary enforcement seat belt laws for at least the front seat driver and passengers.

According to the CDC, seat belts reduce the risk of death for drivers and front-seat passengers by 45%. In 2009 alone, 13,000 lives were saved by seat belts.

While many people complained about the assault to their “personal freedom” that mandatory seat belt laws created, sets belts have saved hundreds of thousands of lives. It took 50 years, but today, more than 90% of drivers wear seatbelts. Much of that happened as younger drivers were brought up with the discipline of wearing a seat belt.

Why am I giving you a history lesson on passenger seat restraints?

Today, we find ourselves in a similar, but more dire situation, partly due to actions taken by the Administration.

In 2018, the White House eliminated the Pandemic Office of the National Security Council Directorate.  Beth Cameron, first director of the unit, stated, “This office was set up to be a smoke alarm and warn of a fire.” But that fire is now raging out of control in our nation.   In addition, $1 billion was cut from the Center for Disease Control, with additional decreases in 2019, 2020, and requested for 2021. We have entered into this current pandemic with our ability to respond crippled by our government.

The COVID-19 virus is faster, more powerful, and more deadly than any virus we have seen in our lifetime.  The common flu kills about 2 people per 100,000 in population1; as of July 2020, according to the CDC, COVID-19 mortality is 113 per hundred thousand people2. As in 1968, we are facing an unacceptable loss of life – and we have a way to reduce that by 45%. But many people feel that this solution is an assault to their “personal freedom.’

Across our nation, medical professionals, public health organizations, and government authorities are encouraging the use of face masks as a way to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The CDC has even said that we could bring the spread of the virus under control in 4-8 weeks if everyone who can, would wear a mask. If you need further proof, consider this news story from a few weeks ago: Two Missouri hair stylists who were showing minor symptoms cut the hair of 139 clients. The stylists wore masks, as did their clients. When they were tested, the stylists were horrified to find out that they were positive … but there has not been one case as a result of that exposure.

Unfortunately, a certain portion of the population – and of the government – have made this into a political issue, with public protest, retaliatory actions, and criticism in the press for those who wear or encourage the wearing of masks.

In Texas, Florida, and Arizona and other states, cases have spiked to as high as 75,000 in one day.  The U.S. has lost more than 144,000 citizens, with nearly 4 million more infected. If we could find a way to reduce that infection number by nearly half, a little inconvenience or a lot of political propaganda should not stand in the way.

As citizens, we are called upon to respect the rights of our neighbors – including their right to stay healthy during a pandemic. As Christians, we are commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves, which may mean the occasional sacrifice – even a small one like wearing a mask – to benefit those around us.

Crippled by a lack of national leadership, we are facing an unacceptable loss of life. We have a way to slow it down, but we don’t have 50 years to wait. For the good of our country and our neighbors, in accordance with our democracy and our faith, it’s time for EVERYONE, from the White House to the house next door, to put politics aside and do what’s right. WEAR A MASK!

 

 

 

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/flu.htm
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-data/covidview/index.html
Posted in Peace & Justice Blog