Peace & Justice Blog

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


 

Seven Years to Sustainability – How You Can Get Involved

Have you been following our updates on the Sven years to Sustainability Drive? You can get involved too … here are two invitations from the Eco-Justice Committee:

  1. If you are interested in joining the Eco-Justice Committee, you are invited to contact Judy Hardy at jhardy2@insight.rr.com
  2. Last Monday (May 3rd), some suggestions for addressing Goal 1: Response to the Cry of the Earth were listed. You are invited to share other suggestions for addressing this goal in the comment boxes below.

 

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

The War That Never Ends

Blog by Justice Promoter Sister Judy Morris, OP

It is hard to imagine that in 2021 humanitarian organizations are still calling for an end to the use of landmines and removal of those that remain in countries no longer engaged in war.  Princess Diana put the issue on the map, but that issue remains a mark of human failure to being human.

“In 2018 nearly 20 civilians were killed or injured every day by land mines and unexploded ordinance remnants, such as cluster munitions, and land mines.  Children represented 40 percent of the casualties according to the International Coalition to Ban Landmines.”
                                                              The Washington Post

 

Those who pay the price of land mines that remain in place long after a war has ended are often children, farmers, and women who perform the work of gathering food and water.  Currently the United States has three million land mines in its arsenal.  We need to make sure these weapons are never put to use.

The Obama administration only allowed anti-personnel land mines to be used in defense of the Korean Peninsula and called for destroying stockpiles that were not meant for that defense.

President Trump’s policy reversed that decision.   It is important to call for President Biden to create a policy that eliminates use of land mines in areas across the world where there has been U.S. military presence.   In response to this tragic policy, 164 nations have barred land mines which create a never-ending destruction of life.  The United States is one of only a handful of nations that refuse to sign a permanent ban.

According to Alex Horton, in Vietnam alone, leftover land mines and other explosive devices dropped by the United States have killed over 40,000 people since the end of the war, and it may take 300 years for all remaining munitions to be cleared.

As many celebrate the end of involvement in the military presence of the United States in Afghanistan, we are forced to recognize the high density of land mines present everywhere.  In addition to saving lives, a desperately needed policy change in land mines will enable farmers to grow crops and animals to graze, as well as civilians to walk the land without fear.  We need to end this war on civilians that never ends.

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Going Green in Spring – Honoring Earth and Planning Activities

These tips have been provided by members of the Dominican Sisters of Peace Eco-Justice Committee.

HONORING EARTH:

  1. Plan to celebrate EARTH DAY (officially – April 22) BUT… every day is EARTH DAY so perhaps choose another day to your liking (find an Earth Day Prayer from the Eco-Justice Committee).
  2. Wear brown or green when celebrating EARTH.
  3. Participate in one of the EARTH DAY activities in your area—or organize one yourself.
  4. Become an EARTH advocate by encouraging others to honor, celebrate and care for EARTH.
  5. Journal some experiences you’ve had with God’s good EARTH.
  6. Try to spend some time outdoors on a regular basis to see and soak in the beauty of nature.
  7. Perhaps visit a garden to smell the flowers or admire the growing vegetables.
  8. Plan a regularly scheduled meeting for an outdoor venue on the grounds or at a nearby park and maybe bring a picnic lunch.

 

ACTIVITIES:

  1. Consider a flower or vegetable garden. Containers big or small with drainage holes are good for limited home areas. Window boxes good for herbs or flowers.
  2. Weeds:
    • Try to get weed roots; easiest to hand pull when ground is damp. Or use a long handle, flat screwdriver to dig them out.
    • Non-toxic weed killer – mix one ounce of white vinegar with one ounce of cheap gin and eight ounces of water, then pour or spray on the weeds.
    • Pouring boiling water on weeds amidst rocks and driveway works.
  3. Help organize ways to donate usable items to charities or for fund-raising for charities.
  4. Clean up:
    • Organize a neighborhood clean-up for trash.
    • Join or start an “Adopt-a-Highway” program.
    • Involve family, school groups, parish, work groups.
    • Adopt a stretch of brook or stream or roadway to keep litter-free. Check on a weekly basis.
  5. Forming or join an “Eco-Committee” in your area and work with others to share ideas, projects, and support.
  6. Get outside. Go for the walks, bike rides, or runs missed over winter.
  7. Take walks in the woods looking for wildflowers and bird nests. Take photos or sketch what you find.
  8. Clean out your birdbath—cleaning and filling with clean water on a regular basis.
  9. Fill and hang out a hummingbird feeder.

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Seven Years to Sustainability – Examining the Program Goals, Number 1

Goal 1 – Response to the Cry of the Earth (greater use of clean renewable energy and reducing fossil fuels in order to achieve carbon neutrality, efforts to protect and promote biodiversity, guaranteeing access to clean water for all, etc.)

  •  Motherhouses, Congregational homes/buildings, and Associate homes –   Click here to calculate your community’s carbon footprint.  Meet with your community to find ways to work to reduce it.
  • Congregation and Associates divest of fossil fuel investments and invest in clean renewable energy.
  • Consider holding online conferences and meetings. The carbon footprint of an online conference is vastly smaller than its in-person counterpart but it is not zero.
  • Work to change our actions that contribute to biodiversity loss.  (e.g. habitat loss and fragmentation, unsustainable resource use, invasive species, pollution, and global climate change)
  • Become active advocates around issues of fossil fuels, renewable energy and biodiversity concerns.
  • Be mindful of personal water use: keep a jug of water in your refrigerator, save water that you run [eg. while waiting for it to warm up] in a bucket and water plants or use for something else later, install a low-flow faucet aerator which can cut water use in half, reduce shower time- aim for 5 minutes.

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Taking the Moral High Ground on the Death Penalty

Blog by Justice Promoter Sister Judy Morris, OP

“The death penalty is a cruel relic of the past and should have no place in our society.  A government should not have the power to take the life of another person, and the death penalty is a flawed and inherently unjust system.”  Rep.  Adriano Espailiat (NY – 13)

 

Rep. Espailiat made these remarks after introducing the Federal Death Penalty Abolition Act of 2021.  He speaks for the majority of people in the United States who support abolition if the law provides an alternative, such as life without parole.  In spite of this support, congress has failed to abolish the federal death penalty.  Under President Trump thirteen federal prisoners were executed in the span of six months.  It had been 17 years since a federal execution had been carried out.

Support for the death penalty rests on myths.  The myth of deterrence against future crime does not hold up since many states with the death penalty have high rates of murder. The majority of murders can be classified as irrational acts, and the perpetrators are unlikely to have considered the possibility of a death sentence before and during the crime.

The belief that capital punishment is less expensive than life in prison is inaccurate.  The huge cost of appeal after appeal easily refutes that argument.

It is important for the focus on capital punishment to be on the morality of taking a life.  We can view the moral perspective in several ways:

We can celebrate some successes on the issue of the death penalty.  Recently the Virginia legislature voted to ban the death penalty, and this ban is now law thanks to the governor’s signature. The assembly in the state of Nevada voted to ban the death penalty, with the final approval resting in the state senate.  There are now 27 states that maintain the death penalty.  Because of the hard work of many citizens, some states have declared a moratorium on the death penalty, others have made it illegal to execute mentally challenged persons or someone who was younger than 17 years of age when the crime was committed.

President Biden, as a Catholic and as the first sitting U.S. president to openly oppose the death penalty, is limited in what he can do to end the death penalty. He can commute the sentences of all persons on federal death row today, and he can tell the justice department not to sentence people to death. These tactics will only be effective during his time in office.

Biden could sign a bill to abolish the death penalty, but that would require Congress to pass one first. Given the current obstructionist relationship between the Executive and the Republican party, that could be difficult, although thirty-seven members of Congress have urged the President to support the Federal Death Penalty Prohibition Act, sponsored by Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

We – YOU – can save a life.  Please contact your U.S. senator and ask that he/she vote to eliminate the federal death penalty.

If your state still has the death penalty, please contact your legislators and call for the abolition of the death penalty.

We can make a difference!  It has already been done in many states.  “Thou shalt not kill” is not a suggestion.

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog