Hope Inspires Good

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP, Justice Promoter

Hope inspires the good to reveal itself. Attributed to Emily Dickenson.

I just got back from a DART Clergy Conference in sunny, warm Orlando.  DART, the Direct Action and Research Training Center, is the umbrella organization for a network of 21 grassroots, nonprofit, congregation-based community organizations including BREAD in Columbus and CLOUT in Louisville. Ministers from all over the United States gathered to pray together, share best practices, and celebrate achievements from the past year. They represented diverse faith traditions, worship styles, and races and were all committed to improving the lives of the people in their communities.  The preaching was tremendous!

There are many common problems in our cities including homelessness, the school-to-prison pipeline, the lack of affordable housing, out-of-school suspensions, and mental illness. Members of DART affiliates raise up issues and solutions that address problems specific to their communities. They meet with city/school officials to present their concerns and hopefully, work with them on research based solutions.  Sometimes officials are not interested in these issues and so DART affiliates bring their members to a NEHIMIAH Action.  Hundreds, sometimes thousands (BREAD turned out over 2500 last May and are looking for 3,000 this May) individuals who believe in justice show officials their support for solutions and demand their participation.  It’s peaceful and powerful.

As your justice promoter, I’m often the bearer of bad news but participating in this conference helped me see much good news. The DART affiliates do grassroots advocacy at its finest. The clergy conference demonstrated to me how seriously many leaders of faith take the justice message of Jesus and of their own faith traditions seriously.  It was an experience of great HOPE and much good was revealed.

There are other interfaith grassroots organizations around the country.  Together people of faith can work for the common good and bring hope to their communities.

The Columbus Nehemiah Action is Monday, May 6, at the Celeste Center.  If you would like to be a part of this action or of BREAD, please contact me at bkane@oppeace.org.  You can be a part of the good that our city needs now.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Promote the General Welfare

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP, Justice Promoter

“We, the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

These words in the preamble of the Constitution of the United States explain what the founding fathers thought the government of the U.S. should be about.  The words Promote the General Welfare stood out to me.  I was recently asked to sign on to a letter prepared by OurChildrensTrust.org asking me to support a law suit filed by several children to stop the damage to our air that would be caused by reducing automotive emissions standards.  Their argument?  That the health and future of these young people would be damaged because the government is not acting in a way to promote the general welfare and that the government is not protecting the resources for present and future generations.

The government, they claim, is responsible for stabilizing the climate for future generations. This idea is called Public Trust Doctrine and it requires government stewardship of the natural resources upon which society (and, by extension, our economy and government) depends for continued existence. (Douglas Quirke. University of Oregon School of Law Environmental and Natural Resources Law Center. February 2016)

There are many natural resources that are part of the public trust including beaches, waterways and harbors, wetlands and wildlife, tributary streams and groundwater, parklands, and atmosphere – air.  Yes, according to the constitution, the government has a responsibility to protect the air that we breathe.

We know that our environment is in crisis and that each of us has a responsibility to do what we can to eliminate and/or reduce our destructive impact on it. But the government also has a responsibility to help us and corporate America take actions to lessen or slow the damage such as reducing the amount of damaging chemicals released into the air from cars and trucks.  Our founding fathers were right in insisting that government promote the general welfare, we should do the same.

If you want to learn more about Our Children’s Trust, watch this video. Click this address and then select the video, A Climate of Trust.  It’s 15 minutes long.    https://www.ourchildrenstrust.org/short-films/

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Feeling Superior

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP, Justice Promoter

I can’t seem to get the picture of the young man from Covington Catholic looking at Native American Nathan Phillips out of my head.  I truly hope that the expression on that young man’s face was “Holy moly, what have I gotten myself into!” but unfortunately, to me it looked like disrespect and smugness.  It seems to be just another occurrence of one person feeling superior over another.

Seeing oneself as superior has been happening since the beginning of time. Did the original farmers look down on the hunter-gatherers?  We know the conquering countries felt superior to those conquered and enslaved.  In our reading from St. Paul on Sunday, he seems to rank the value of the various gifts to the church – apostles, prophets, teachers, etc. Are they superior to others?   It happens in the workplace also – we rank jobs (and the people in them) based on how much money we pay for that work.

Having a more important job or higher ranking is not a bad thing unless that person considers himself/herself superior to everyone else.  When this happens a priest/pastor feels that he/she has a right to take advantage of a child…. a boss feels he/she can demand sexual favors of an employee…. a person is forced into sex or labor slavery…. and a president thinks it’s good to build a wall or enforce a ban on people who speak a different language or practice a different religion. It can even be seen in a teenager’s face.

Let us remember that believing that one is superior is damaging for the person feeling superior and those whom he/she feels superior to. It is often the cause of most of the injustice that takes place in our world today. Take a minute to reflect on your attitude toward others.  Are you guilty of feeling superior?

 

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

A Journey That Was Meant To Be

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP, Justice Promoter

It was a horrendous trip – delayed by a winter storm far worse than expected with states and citizens not prepared or used to the amount of snow and ice.  We sat three hours on a closed highway in Oklahoma. Then once we got into New Mexico, we were trying to beat another storm so we kept going.  Unfortunately, it caught up to us about half way through the state and late into the night.  I won’t go into the details but we were traveling much slower than the speed limit and had a few harrowing moments.

Part way through this journey we realized that our experience might have some similarities to those of the refugees that we would be interacting with. We were all desperate to get to El Paso… we wanted to escape the danger of the snow and begin our service, they wanted to escape the violence of gangs and poverty and begin a new, more promising life. We were both at the mercy of the government… we needed them to plow and salt the roads, they needed to be processed and sent to a hospitality center.  We all needed rest and refreshment after difficult journeys.

But there were some big differences.  We could afford to stop at a nice hotel to wait out the storm.  We had a safe, warm vehicle to travel in, plenty of warm clothing, and nutritious food.  We knew where we were going and how to communicate with others if we were stuck.  The asylum seekers were not so fortunate sleeping rough, bringing little more than the clothes on their backs, and with little money for food or shelter. Most had never travelled by plane and where afraid of this final leg of their journey to their sponsors.

We arrived safely in El Paso after 18 hours or so and completed our ministry in the Pastoral Center of the Diocese of El Paso.  Each of us shared the gifts we had for language, cooking, organizing, and cleaning.  We met some courageous mothers and fathers from El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Brazil, Cuba, and Russia whose only desire was to live in peace and provide for their families.  We were blessed over and over again during our two weeks.  It was a journey that was meant to be.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Palestine and Human Rights

Blog by Sr. Roberta Miller, OP

In the beginning was Al-Nakba (the Catastrophe) in May 1948. The Zionist forces (Irgun and Haganah) invaded Palestine to establish the Israeli state. The conquest is now an occupation in 2018 of the land.  The Zionist ideology formulate by Theodore Herzl back in 1897 was to have a Jewish nation-state to counteract European anti-Semitism.

The Israeli state models England’s government set-up with Prime Minister, Parliament and several political parties vying for voting power.  Jewish citizens are governed under Civil law    and Palestinians under Military law. The list of violations of Palestinian human rights (Muslim and Christian) over the 70 years of Israel’s existence would be a book now with the blatant disregard for human rights getting worse as the U.S. exercises its protective power on behalf of Israel in the United Nations and here at home. As former Israeli soldiers are coming forth to speak out publically to the world (“We were the Terrorists”), egregious acts of disregard of human rights and violence have been committed against Palestinians as they are pushed off their lands, out of their homes, deprived of the basic necessities of life such as water, privacy and safety. Medical care in hospitals and formal education become non-accessible with the roadblocks, check points, and secure roads only for Jewish settlers and citizens. Under military rule Palestinians live in an apartheid state, one in which the lives of their children are always in danger. Youth between 12 and 17 are arrested, detained, questioned in Hebrew not Arabic and without counsel or family, kept in solitary confinement and tortured either physically or verbally. Children under 11 have been shot by soldiers coming home from school.

We stand up for of justice and mercy for the Palestinians by understanding protesting Zionism is not anti-Semitic; by supporting the peaceful movements such as BDS (Boycott, Divest, and Sanction) to pressure international corporations to not benefit from the systemic deprivation of Palestinian land and resources; by becoming more informed and active to stop Israeli violations of the basic human rights of all peoples in Israel.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog