Peace & Justice Blog

Stay up to date on peace and justice issues, both locally and internationally, and learn how you can take action.


 

What Makes a Racist?

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP, Justice Promoter

I just spent the weekend learning and reflecting about racism.  It’s a complicated issue especially for those of us who are white and don’t think we are. It’s very difficult to know what’s in another’s heart but as we do know that actions speak louder than words.

Case in point.  There is a lot of discussion about whether the president is racist. People on Facebook are asking it, the news media is commenting on it and several Democratic lawmakers are stating it.  Again, we don’t know what’s in his heart but let’s look at some actions:

  • Children as young as four months have been separated from their parents.
  • Hardworking, tax paying immigrants have been arrested and deported.
  • Families fleeing from violence and climate disasters are refused entry because of their religion.
  • Parents and children are detained in cages in 60 degree rooms.
  • Whole countries, cities, and ethnicities are labeled as criminals, terrorists, or filthy.

All of the above are happening to people of color.

Very few can say that we do not have some racist tendencies in us. We must work hard to identify them and keep them from resulting in actions that hurt others.

St. Paul wrote “Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good.” (Romans 12:21) Calling people names takes up time and energy that would be better spent doing good.  Let’s use our energy to protest these evil and racist actions by letting our representatives know that we do not agree with what is going on and that we will not reelect those who are complicit in these actions.  Catholics are taught to love the sinner and hate the sin. Let us pray for the president and those who are advising him and at the same time continue to condemn those actions that hurt our brothers and sisters.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

YES

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP, Justice Promoter

This Thursday, we celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Mary into heaven. She is the only human that we know of whose resurrected body was united with God.  The rest of us must wait until the end times or second coming for this to happen.  Why was this incredible honor given to her?

It was certainly her radical YES to God’s request to become the mother of Jesus.  An unmarried teenage girl trusted God enough to agree to this request. But it didn’t stop there. Wasn’t it also all the other yesses she said during her lifeline? Consider these examples.

Mary said yes when she joined Joseph as they were forced to flee their homes to escape to Egypt when violence threatened the safety of their child. Despite the incredibly hard journey and their desperate poverty, they went.

Mary said yes when she realized the Jesus wasn’t with Joseph on the journey back home from Jerusalem.  Jesus was back in the temple learning from the elders.  Imagine the fear Mary felt at this separation. Yet Jesus had to ‘go about His Father’s business” alone.

Mary said yes when she stood at the foot of the cross.  She watched as her innocent child was executed by government forces and by hate for what he preached.

Mary said yes in all her experiences especially those that were the most painful.  She is a model for the many mothers seeking safety and survival for their children. She is the model for mothers whose children have been separated from them.  She is the model for the mothers of the executed. She is a model for each of us letting us know what we can say yes in the most sorrowful and fearful times in our lives.

Thank you, gracious God, for giving us this loving model of YES.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Act Now

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

Three weeks ago, Sr. Manuela and I stopped at Walmart to pick up a few groceries and some medicine. It was in El Paso – the same Walmart that was the site of the horrific shooting on Sunday.  Had the gunman decided to come earlier to do his dreadful deed, we might have been among the victims. I have never lived or ministered in a neighborhood where I was afraid to walk outside so gun safety or anti-gun violence legislation was always more of an intellectual exercise than a personal need.  The El Paso shooting has changed that for me.

I have ministered in El Paso twice and during both my experiences, I met many, many kind and generous people. There were concerned about the asylum seekers coming to the United States for a safer life. They care about their community.  They live in one of the safest cities in the U.S.  They did not deserve to experience such evil.

It’s pretty clear that the shooter acted out of hatred for Latino people especially those seeking asylum.  Where did he get the idea that this hatred was justified and that killing was a legitimate method for eliminating them?  It comes from the very top of our government.  Speech vilifying people of color especially those from Mexico and Central America and actions to ban or mistreat their legitimate requests for asylum gives individuals the OK to take action into their own hands.

So what do we do?  Assault type weapons should be taken off the market and made illegal for all but military use. There is no possible reason that a person needs to own an assault weapon expect to perpetrate events like El Paso or Dayton.  Weapons manufacturers should act in a responsible way and remove them from the retail market.

Universal background checks must be implemented and anyone with records of violence or mental illness should not be allowed to purchase weapons.

Red Flag laws also called extreme risk protection order laws, that allow law enforcement to confiscate guns from individuals deemed a risk to themselves or others should be implemented. Family members or others can petition the court for these orders if they fear their loved one is in danger of killing himself/herself or others.

Hate speech should be condemned at every level of government and society.  News organizations should bleep out this language just as they do with swear words. This message should be preached from every pulpit – hatred of anyone is not part of our faith.

Our state and national representatives have by and large refused to act on legislation that would reduce gun violence. Only 30% of Americans own a gun. 57% of Americans believe that we need stricter gun legislation. Why do our legislators feel the rights of gun owners especially the most extreme are more important that the safety of everyone else?

 

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Love it or Leave it?

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP, Justice Promoter

Love it or leave it is a phrase being thrown out lately. Recently, it’s been applied to four members of the U.S. House of Representatives who are women of color.  Three of them were born in the U.S. and one is a naturalized citizen. They are being criticized for criticizing actions by our government.  Should they be forced to leave or be silent about their gripes?

What does it mean to really love something like a country?  Thomas Aquinas says that to love is “to will the good of the other.” It means we want and expect the best for them.  This seems a reasonable standard for a country also.

So what is ‘good’ for our country?  Most of that is spelled out in the Declaration of Independence – equality, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and in the Constitution, the bill of rights and amendments – freedom of speech, of religion, of the press, the right to vote, due process, and to petition the government for a redress of grievance. When someone criticizes the government because these values are not being afforded to it citizens, then aren’t they working for the good of the country? In fact, the Declaration of Independence includes, “That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it.” This certainly includes voting for new government but it also means that we have a right to speak out when the government is unjust.

But here’s the rub… does this only apply for citizens of the party in power? To people who like the president? To white citizens? To those born in the US?

Thomas also wrote, “we must love them both, those whose opinions we share and those whose opinions we reject, for both have labored in the search for truth, and both have helped us in finding it.” People with differing opinions shouldn’t be ‘sent back’, they should be embraced as giving us another perspective that we might not be able to see.

I love my country. So when I see that we are not living up to the best we can be, it’s required that I speak out.  To criticize someone who also wants what’s best for the country is to disrespect what we are all about.  To chant ‘ Send her back’ is un-American.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

The Challenges of Being Peace

Blog by Associate Mary Beth Auletto

“After what happened last election I was mad at myself for being complacent.  Now it’s hard to watch the news – I get mad at everyone else.” 

This seems to be a common admission among many of my friends and colleagues.  And so many of them right now are choosing to steer clear of the news and politics.  Others are limiting their news to keep the negative emotions and anxiety in check.  I personally find what most pushes my buttons is when someone predicts our current leader will get re-elected for four more years; I frequently retort, “Don’t steal my hope!”

So what to do as our next election approaches: Wear t-shirts with our candidate and boldly pronounce that we want to share with anyone who will listen why they should vote for this person?  Keep politics out of conversations with family and coworkers?  Unfriend Facebook friends who post views that disappoint and anger us?

Maybe…but what if we could learn to have peaceful and respectful conversations with those with whom we disagree?  There is a technique called CLARA that was developed to do just that.  CLARA as defined by the Pace Bene Organization as an acronym meaning Center, Learn, Articulate, Receive, Accomplish; they describe it as “a process for nonviolent transformation in our lives and our world”.  CLARA is part of the Peace and Nonviolence Committee’s upcoming “Blessed are the Peacemakers” workshop October 27th.  I look forward to this opportunity and hope you too will consider attending.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog