Just Reflecting

“Just Reflecting” features a variety of blogs and bloggers discussing various social justice topics that we encounter in our daily lives, whether it be within our communities or own families.


Being Open in Mind and Heart

Roberta Miller, OP
Just Reflecting by Sr. Roberta Miller, OP

Once upon a time many of us took pleasure in hearing the bird-songs of summer, smelling the aromas of earth’s flowers and leaves or the lake and salt waters of the shores. Today our windows are closed for air conditioning against seasonal heat and humidity.

We are city people and a city is noisy, full of movement. If we sit quietly outside or open a window, we hear the constant flow of traffic, sirens and horns. How do we relate to our natural world environs? Recently I met a young man whose friends were driving westward. Stopped somewhere in Ohio, they called him and commented on how boring their drive was because they only saw trees.

Is this the issue underlining the current debate over climate change in the world? We city people have lost contact with and feel separated from the natural world?

The challenge presented us is to change our relationship to Earth. The facts of climate warming and its effects are in. Human activities with our technologies of fossil fuel energies and production methods have raised atmospheric heat beyond what is safe for human existence. Today Church and State are together in calling for recognition of Earth as belonging to all peoples. Earth’s resources are meant for all; the privileged minority must share abundantly with the vast majority of impoverished peoples.

The upcoming United Nations Climate Conference in Paris, France, November 30-December 11, 2015, highlights issues requiring binding and universal agreement on climate. It will advise immediate action steps to reduce the dangerous atmospheric carbon storage and accumulation occurring. Climate change is defined to mean “a change of climate which is attributed directly/indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.” (Natural variability can occur through volcanic activity or solar cycles as examples.) Among issues are the need for diversified agriculture, recovery of indigenous knowledge systems of food production, recognition of diversity in ecosystems with their impact upon carbon-oxygen exchanges, and recognition of the importance and primary place of women in the use of earth’s resources.

The facts and experiences of world climate alterations place women with their families in the center of poverty – 70% of the world’s poor are women. Droughts, floods, the loss of land and weather extremes are occurring world-wide. Diversified farming helps to sustain and promote sustainable food systems when climate changes occur in a region. Women are usually the first to experience the consequences of water scarcity and contamination. They are the ones who travel distances to get water as well as sticks for fuels. Their skeletal structures witness to the burden; their families become ill with the contaminated water—typhoid, dysentery, parasitical worms among other diseases. A glass of clean water is an unknown luxury for most families around the globe.

Laudato Si brings to the forefront the role of spirituality developed over the centuries in relationship to Earth. Close contact with “Mother” Earth awakens a spiritual relationship with Earth as in the Sioux prayer: “Teach us to walk the soft Earth as relatives to all that live.” The writers in the Bible experienced this relationship: “greatness and beauty of created things” by God is seen (Wis.13:5). Creation is of God, a gift, our common home. Creation is the order of Love of which Nature is a part – for in Christ were created all things in heaven and on earth (Col.1:16). Thus Meister Eckhart in the 13th century: “Every single creature is full of God and is a book about God. Every creature is a word of God.”

We are witnessing the largest number of refugees and displaced persons ever in recorded history, a consequence of human greed and the drive for power. This is a result of world inequalities in which 80% of world peoples are deprived of earth’s resources by which they might earn a living with dignity, integrity and respect. This poverty has close connections with the problems of human and organ trafficking, forced labor/slavery, prostitution, drugs, migrations and wars. When water, land, minerals and all creatures are seen only as commodities, we cease to see Creation as gift. When Creation is no longer gift, God disappears from our sight. Our skyscrapers, ever taller, become the new towers of Babel. Earth becomes “an immense pile of filth” in human and chemical wastes.

Let us read and ponder ; let us pressure our politicians to be open and willing to lead in fostering policies and actions for the common well-being of all peoples.

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A Journey of the Heart

Rose Marie Cummins, OP
Reflection by Sr. Rose Marie Cummins, OP

In the past few years, we Dominican Sisters of Peace have tried to understand many immigration issues: the vital need for reform; why so many mothers and children (many of them babies) have risked the trek through the deserts of the world and arrived by tens of thousands to the United States and elsewhere in the world; how to deal with the millions of displaced peoples throughout the world forced to flee unimaginably brutal violence, assassination of family members, forced membership in gangs and warring armies, genocide and extreme poverty. Continue reading →

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Reversing the Stalemate: Normalizing Relations with Cuba

Kelly Litt
Reflection by Kelly Litt

In a surprising move on December 17, President Obama announced that the United States would begin normalizing relations with Cuba following the release of American contractor Alan Gross, who had been imprisoned in Cuba for five years. President Obama addressed Americans explaining that relations between the US and Cuba would be restored and travel and trade would be opened. Continue reading →

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Can Pentecost Happen Again?

Sr. Judy Morris, OP
Reflection by Sr. Judy Morris, OP

Ever wonder what happened to civility in the United States? Television programs that focus on current political and social issues involve commentators and guests constantly interrupting each other. No one has the opportunity to finish a sentence. Political dialogue among elected officials has become political diatribe, deteriorating into toxic partisan posturing. Continue reading →

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The Journey of Hope Continues

Associate Jerry Stein, OPA
Reflection by Associate Jerry Stein, OPA

Attending the School of the Americas (SOA) demonstration has been an important part of my schedule for the last ten years. Motivated by a faith that moves me to treat others as I want to be treated, this was a natural response. As a citizen of the United States, I am complicit in economic and military oppression toward God’s people all over the globe, especially the poor and vulnerable. My commitment to gospel values means that I must do my part, however small, to build God’s justice where I am called and show the oppressed they are loved. It is well documented that the SOA teaches terrorism, assassination and torture. A yearly presence is my expression of hope and solidarity in a very dark world. We have the sure hope that God will grant the grace of conversion to all responsible. Continue reading →

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