Racism – Continued

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP, Justice Promoter

Last week, I attended the JCWR (Justice Conference of Women Religious) Convocation called Racism Through the Prism of Social Justice. Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur Patricia Chappell and Anne-Louise Nadeau led the group in a better understanding of how racism plays out in our religious communities.  Racism can touch all facets of a congregation including governance and leadership, decision making, vocations, ministries, living choices, financial resources, and formation. They encouraged us to ask how our sisters of color and young women of color discerning religious life experience us.

We learned that sisters of color often have a higher incidence of illness and die younger. Is this because of the stress they feel… the exclusion?  Do sisters of color leave because they feel forced to give up their cultures or traditions and replace them with Eurocentric ones?  Patty and Anne-Louise challenged the justice promoters present to consider how their congregations were addressing white privilege and racial oppression….to ask ourselves what gets in the way of accepting each sister as she is and to be in right relationship with women of color.

We are often hesitant to have conversations about white privilege because of the feelings of blame and guilt that they raise up in us. We want to scream “I’m not racist!” and that may be true but those of us who are white are gifted with privilege that pervades our lives. We must become aware of how privilege influences our thinking and acting.  Sr. Marcelline Koch, a Springfield Dominican and part of their Anti-racism team, shared that we must educate ourselves and others about the presence of white privilege, and learn when we need to listen more carefully to persons of color. We must have the courage to speak against racist or ignorant comments when they occur.  She stressed that we must promote inclusion and think from a position of abundance not scarcity.

We have been faithful to our study of racism over the past two years and that puts us light years ahead of many congregations. But we are only at the beginning of our journey towards truly being anti-racist. We need to explore how racism undergirds our other justice areas such as immigration, trafficking, violence, and care for creation. We need to intentionally and consistently recognize our privilege and how it has impacted our sisters and associates of color. We need to take risks to have honest dialog about this issue. It’s hard. But…

Do we really love our congregation enough to be honest, vulnerable and transparent together?

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

They Paved Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot

Blog by Karen Martens, OPA

As a child, I didn’t think about soil except using it to make a perfect mud cake. All these years later, as a gardener and promotor of landscaping with native plants, I’ve come to realize that soil is a sacred commodity and we must continually make peace with it.  Soil is a living ecosystem, far more complex than once thought. It has been written that we owe our lives to healthy soil. Yet, it is often overlooked by the average person and, in fact, is threatened through our actions. Soil is lost 13-40 times faster than the rate of renewal and sustainability. Soil conservation on a larger scale is land conservation and it is all essential to the health of the planet.

Healthy soil has billions of bacteria, fungi and other microbes which provide nutrients for plant growth. Healthy soil filters and buffers pollutants and absorbs and holds water. Healthy soil is important for human health through its essential role in food production. Farmers must especially be mindful of keeping soil healthy through actions that prevent soil erosion, reduce tillage and prevent overgrazing. Organic matter is the most important aspect of healthy soil. The United States Department of Agriculture reports that for every 1 percent increase in organic matter in soil, U.S. farms could store the amount of water that goes over Niagara Falls in 150 days! That is amazing.

Unfortunately, soil and land are undervalued. There has been much land pollution as a result of human activities. You can probably recall examples. I mourned the loss of a field around a university that used to be home to pheasants. Now it is a large parking lot just like Joni Mitchell wrote about. Forests and wetlands have been lost through construction and agriculture. Overcrowded landfills are a result of over consumption and excessive garbage that cannot be recycled.

So how can we make peace with the soil?  Where do we fit in? Can we advocate for land conservation? Can we financially contribute to land conservation efforts? Can we conserve and wisely manage land that we own? Can we eat locally and support small farmers? Can we diversify the plants on our properties which, in turn, supports healthy soil? Can we compost and use it to enrich the soil around our homes and properties? Can we live simply by reducing our own consumption and reduce what we contribute to landfills? None of us can do all these things, but we all can do some of them.  Just doing one can help make peace with the soil provided so lovingly by our God.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Why?

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

Fifty innocent individuals were slaughtered at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand last Friday.  It was done by a self-professed white supremacist who wrote that he wanted to kill as many people as possible.  Why?

On the following day, I participated in a press conference at CAIR (Council on American–Islamic Relations). Each of the imams and Muslim leaders described calls and texts from children and teens in their mosques who wanted to know if it was safe to come to prayer.  They were afraid.  Why?

Later that evening I prayed Taize prayer with discerners and sisters at the Come and See Weekend in our motherhouse in Akron. As I sat in silence, it occurred to me that not one of the twenty or so women in the chapel were afraid to come to prayer. The majority of us were white and we had never experienced hatred because of our skin color or religion.  Why?

Why? Why? Why?  As Dominican sisters and associates of Peace, we must condemn the heresy of supremacy that teaches that one race, religion, or nationality is superior to another.  It is evil. It is not what the Scriptures teach. At the same time, we must also pray for conversion of heart for those ensnared by this heresy. Is this hard? You bet. It’s much easier to pray for the victims and we must do that; but, we also have to pray for conversion of hate to love.  We cannot match hate with hate.  Join me please, in prayer so that children will not be afraid to go to prayer.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Precious Water

Blog by Sr. Roberta Miller, OP

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink. Did Noah in the Ark think the same as they all floated for 40 days? We assume God sent down sufficient rain to quench their thirst. Still—anxiety must have existed. What about us in 2019? Are we assuming God and technology will provide us with sufficient fresh water in these times of climate change with its overwhelming precipitation or drought as well as rising temperatures? Are we making peace with our water or waging war?

Some facts can frame our world’s water situation:

  • 98% of earth’s water is salt
  • Less than 1% of our total fresh water is available for human use
  • Water consumption since 1900 has increased 10-fold with population growth, economic development in industry and agricultural mass production
  • Fresh water scarcity has increased 20% with depletion of water aquifers, melted glaciers, destruction of lakes, streams, watersheds, and pollution

The human body stops functioning after going without water for 3-4 days. Each American (you and I) at home uses an average of 88 gallons (333 liters) of water daily. Our hygienic needs in handwashing with soap after/during activities, food preparation take 4-5 gallons of water. As fresh water scarcity increases on Earth, one-half of our current global population lives in deprived water areas for at least one month a year. This water scarcity exists on every continent. By 2020, 1.8 billion people will experience no water and another two-thirds will have very limited access to it.  What are ways you and I can reduce an everyday water routine—not run water when brushing teeth?

Having water for life is a human right—not a commodity. Water security means access to sufficient quantities of clean water for food, sanitation, and health care.  Are you aware that here in the US—and in OH—individuals/families go without water because they cannot afford to pay for or buy it? Cities and towns in their need to repair/update/expand their public water infrastructure (ex. Corroded/broken pipes or valves) and to adjust to changing climates are raising water rates.  The trend toward privatization of public utilities such as city water in the name of efficiency and expense endangers public access to this human right. The Corporations of Nestles/Perrier, Danone, Pepsi, Coca Cola see the increasing water crisis as economic opportunity as they pump water from springs, aquifer/underground sources, and lakes (as Lake Michigan and Superior) to bottle in plastic for purchase by us and in other countries. Do you recall the bulk packages of water bottles unloaded for the destitute residents of Detroit or Puerto Rico? Did the bottling corporations freely donate?

We cannot just wring our hands; it is not que sera, que sera. To make peace with water, we must keep tabs on the proposals and actions of our government officials, of business /legal entities proposing public budget savings.   We avoid buying bottled drinks and encourage relatives/friends to do also; we use waste containers to avoid polluting streets and streams. How do you plan to make peace with our precious water?

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Why We Need to Make Peace with the Earth

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP, Justice Promoter

How does God reveal God’s self to you?  Perhaps it’s holding an infant with Downs Syndrome. Maybe, it’s serving at a soup kitchen. Many of us see God in a glorious sunrise or sunset… in the majesty of the mountains or the vastness of the ocean.   God is so often revealed in the nature that is all around us.  What responsibility do we have to protect this source of God’s revelation?  Are we in danger of losing it through climate catastrophes?

The Dominican Sisters of Peace Land Ethic Document states:  “It is a short jump to the realization that when we humans destroy the land, water and air with chemicals, sewerage, waste products and machines, we are crucifying again the God who created everything, ourselves included. This failure to recognize God’s presence in creation is our Sin. In our disregard or mindlessness, we are eliminating and short circuiting all life forms as nothing can evolve out of our destruction of ecosystems.”

Richard Rohr, in his February 27th blog, puts it like this: “Every single creature—the teen mother nursing her child, every one of the twenty thousand species of butterflies, an immigrant living in fear, a blade of grass, you reading this meditation—all are “in Christ” and “chosen from the beginning.” (Ephesians 1:3-4, 9-10)

Finally, a young person typing a reflection on her visit to the Grand Canyon wrote, “Hearing the words ‘Grand Canyon’ and now experiencing it for the first time, I realize that the term ‘Grand’ falls far [short] of what this place [truly] represents: Perfection.”

Yes… God is revealed in the perfection of the natural world. During the months of March and April leading up to Earth Day, members of the Eco Justice committee will present a series of blogs called Making Peace with the Earth.  It will be an opportunity for readers to reflect on the importance of our world and how we must make changes if we are to protect this amazing revelation of God.  Please take some time this Lent to consider what actions you can take. What’s one thing that you will do to make peace with the earth?

 

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog