Cause and Effect

Blog by Sr. Mary Ellen Bennett, OP

Gun violence is shockingly omnipresent these days.  Part of the blame for this goes to Congress, which has consistently opposed sensible gun control legislation.  There was gun control legislation in the U.S. until 2004 when Congress failed to renew it.  Their failure to act after the Sandy Hill Massacre in 2012 made it painfully obvious that Congress has higher priorities than ending human suffering.

There has been wide and consistent support for sensible gun control legislation and for a ban on assault weapons.  The Dominican Sisters of Peace took a Corporate Stand on this issue in 2014.  There has always been wide support for the right to bear arms, but with that right comes the obligation to handle them responsibly.

Not only have our legislators failed to enact gun control laws, but they have also gone so far as to introduce bills to encourage gun use, like proposals in Ohio for Open Carry, or laws in Texas that allow guns to be carried in houses of worship.

It is discouraging that Congress has fallen so far under the political and financial influence of the NRA and other gun lobbies. It is just as discouraging that the NRA’s purpose has evolved from supporting the safe and controlled use of guns for sport, to knowingly supporting easy access to guns, even assault weapons.  Arms purchase is unregulated at local gun shows and on the Internet.  Now that we know that the NRA’s leadership is corrupt, will they still be able to influence Congress?

What would it be like today if our legislators had listened to the supporters of sensible gun control legislation instead of being swayed by the NRA? According to a study by Stanford University professor John Donohue, the Assault Weapons ban alone, which was allowed to lapse in 2004, was associated with a 25 percent drop in gun massacres (from eight to six) and a 40 percent drop in fatalities (from 81 to 49). Mandatory gun locks and safe storage laws – which do not affect gun ownership in any way –  could reduce youth firearm deaths by 6 percent. Innumerable people might not be maimed or dead, and street violence would not be so far out of control.

When will we ever learn?

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Fifty Seven Years and Counting…

Pat Dual
Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

Last week, I watched news coverage and commemorated virtually my solidarity with those who commemorated the 1963 March on Washington, for jobs and racial equality, with a 2020 March on Washington protesting racial inequality.   On August 28, 2020, thousands flooded the streets of Washington, D.C. once again to protest racial injustice, but with the added demand for police reform and to proclaim that Black Lives Matter.

Fifty seven years after Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. proclaimed his  “Dream” of the Beloved Community before our nation, we stand in the same spot demanding not only racial equality—but the right NOT to be killed by those sworn to protect and to serve.  In the midst of a pandemic, they came—masked and risking their lives to bear a wide variety of messages—calling for justice and equality with persistent reminders on signs and on their person—that human dignity applies to black and brown bodies too.

While many of the inequality issues of both the March in 1963 and the March in 2020 remained the same, there were some important differences.  The most evident was the significant diversity of the mostly young protesters. In addition, the theme that they chose, “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks,” might seem provocative, but it bears an image of truth about racism in America. Racism is the “knee” that systematically “chokes” the life out of black and brown people—economically, educationally and actually every aspect of life.  Systemic racism can literally cost them their lives.

Whether America will more effectively acknowledge and address the entrenchment of systemic racism in our society this time, is still an open question for me.  However, I do feel that the national and global consciousness of racism is in a place it has not been before. We are at a place where real change is possible, but not without uncomfortable and difficult dialogue and change.

Fifty seven years and counting—as a 68 year old Black woman, as a religious Sister, as a Dominican Sister of Peace—I often ask myself, how do I feel about this continuing struggle for human dignity?  This may seem like an easy question, but sometimes, it is not. Certainly, it is a given, that I stand with those seeking justice and peace. But many times, to quote the recent words of former First Lady Michelle Obama and countless others, “I am frustrated and tired.” Especially, when I hear of more violence and yet another shooting of an unarmed Black person by police.  Or, when I hear the obvious lies and promotion of violence coming from the highest office in America. The list could go on and on, but you get the idea.  Then comes the reality check.

The Atlantic photo credit Emily Jan.

I can always count on God to provide a reality check. It comes in different ways and sometimes, I wish it would come much sooner—but it comes.  It comes in the form of hope, like an adorable picture of a baby sporting an indelible truth on his hat and his shirt.  Or, it comes in the form of the 12-year old granddaughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., standing in the very spot her grandfather stood in 57 years ago, talking about justice and speaking truth to power.  Sometimes hope comes in the realization that the diversity and youth involved in the struggle for justice today, is indeed, a sign of progress.  Hope came last week in the form of a peaceful march by diverse peoples to Washington, D.C. to commemorate earlier struggles for racial equality.

 

 

12 year old Yolanda Renee King, granddaughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking at March on Washington 2020 and with her father, Martin Luther King III. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
12 year old Yolanda Renee King, granddaughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking at March on Washington 2020 and with her father, Martin Luther King III. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In whatever form God chooses to inspire me with hope during these times, I am grateful.  How does God inspire you during these times?

Posted in God Calling?

Peace and Justice Updates, 9.2.2020

Webinar – September 3, 2020:
Following Jesus in Election Season – Christian Allegiance: Two Perspectives. Join our colleague, Fr. John Dear, on this webinar organized by The Global Immersion Project. Learn more and register here.


Stand Up For Families in  Ohio 

Please consider taking 5 minutes right now to sign and share this Ohio faith leader sign-on letter to Senator Portman. Sources indicate that it may be possible to convince the Senator of the importance of including mixed-status families in the financial relief offered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, we hope you will sign our letter urging him to cosponsor the “Coronavirus Assistance for American Families (CAAF) Act” and to support an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit in order to provide economic stimulus and financial relief to families in need during this global pandemic.

The deadline for signatures is September 4, so please act now!

The Refugee Council USA is organizing Virtual Lobby Days this week. Please consider participating by contacting your senators and representative and urging them to hold the administration accountable and restore the U.S. refugee quota to historic levels.

Background
By September 30th, the Trump Administration is required by U.S. law to consult with House and Senate Judiciary Committee leaders before deciding how many refugees can be resettled to the United States in FY 2021. Since 1980, the U.S. has set a ceiling of about 95,000 refugees each year. However, this number has dropped precipitously during the Trump administration, reaching a low of 18,000 for FY 2020, a decrease of more eighty percent.

The United States can and should resettle more refugees. By comparison, Germany, with a population about one fourth the size of the U.S., settled more than 800,000 refugees in 2015. Refugees are a great gift to our country. Many are working on the frontlines during the coronavirus pandemic, including 176,000 in the health care field.

NOTE: If your senator or representative holds a key leadership position (named below), a call to their office would be very helpful. The message is simple:
Please restore the U.S. refugee quota to at least the pre-Trump administration level of 95,000. The United States can and should welcome more refugees. They are a gift to our country.

  • Sen. Graham (R-SC), Chair, Senate Judiciary Committee: 202-224-5972
  • Sen. Cornyn (R-TX), Chair, Senate Immigration Subcommittee: 202-224-2934
  • Sen. Feinstein (D-CA), Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee: 202-224-3841
  • Sen Durbin (D-IL), Ranking Member, Senate Immigration Subcommittee: 202-224-2152
  • Rep. Nadler (NY-10), Chair, House Judiciary Committee: 202-225-5635
  • Rep. Lofgren (CA-19), Chair, House Immigration Subcommittee: 202-225-3072
  • Rep. Jordan (OH-04), Ranking Member, House Judiciary Committee: (202) 225-2676
  • Rep. Buck (CO-04), Ranking Member, House Immigration Subcommittee: 202-225-4676

Posted in Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Disappeared

Blog by Justice Promoter Sister Judy Morris, OP

What happened to the stories of children at the border, of babies in cages, of children never found after being separated from their parents?  In the torrent of news around the pandemic, of protests, and of the mudslinging of the presidential campaign, those stories have disappeared. Not only are the stories missing from the front page, they cannot be found even on the back pages.

Outside of the traditional media, stories of abuse continue.  A teenage girl with her baby fled Guatemala and arrived at the U.S. border this summer.   She pleaded for help, stating that a man who raped her vowed to make her “disappear.”  Despite her pleas, she was taken into custody by the U.S. government and held for several days in a hotel, with little outside contact.  According to Pro Publica, she was expelled from the country.

Like her, thousands of migrant children have been expelled by the Trump administration since March, without access to lawyers or family members.

The Trump administration cites the threat of COVID 19 as the reason for removing children as young as eight months from the border and returning them almost immediately.  The word “deportation” is not used – and that’s by design. A “deportation” is a proceeding based on years of established law – a legal action that mandates a formal hearing in immigration court.  By “expelling” the refugee, the Administration takes away the most basic of human rights. There is no lawyer, no social worker and no family member available while in the United States.

Lisa Frydman, Vice President of International Programs at Kids in Need of Defense, an advocacy group for migrant children, states, “We are only reaching a tiny fraction of these kids, the rest are just gone.”

According to a report from the Texas Tribune and Propublica, “Most children who now reach the United States are quickly flown back to their home countries, often to danger, forcing the intervention of international child welfare agencies to protect them from harm.  Some children told advocates that they were sent to Mexico, in the middle of the night, even if they were not from there.”

Imagine your child, your grandchild. Six years old. Alone. In a country that they have never seen.

Children disappeared.

Truth disappeared.

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog