Peace & Justice Blog

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


 

A Summer Stroll

Blog by Associate Frank Martens, OPA

We recently returned from a trip. Flying into Columbus, we passed over Shepherd’s Corner. It was an amazing sight. The forest, fields and pond surrounded by houses with brown roofs that looked like they were part of a monopoly game. An oasis surrounded by subdivisions.

Later, I thought about how lucky we are to live on the edge of a park. I decided to take a stroll and see what was going on in our little patch since we had been gone. I noticed our lawn was full of clover and the worker bees were busy gathering pollen per their job description. The goldfinch were eating leftover thistle seed from our winter feeding station and showing off their bright yellow and black finery. Some were demonstrating their perfect balance by standing on the top of our blooming coneflowers picking out the small seeds as they swayed in the wind. Monarch butterflies were laying eggs on our many milkweed plants. Soon their leaves will be full of munching caterpillars and those who survive will become monarchs ready for their migration to Mexico. Swallowtail butterflies will be laying their eggs on fennel and parsley. They will emerge as caterpillars and then ultimately become butterflies.

Two pair of nesting wrens were apparently successful fledging their broods. Perhaps their young were nearby since I was greeted by a chorus of chattering wrens. The blue jay family is occupying the spruce trees and squawking loudly, concerned about something. Another birdhouse, previously occupied by evicted house sparrows, is now occupied by eastern bluebirds and mother bluebird is sitting on four eggs. The deer, raccoons, and rabbits who regularly visit us have left their calling cards. A chipmunk runs across my path. Its puffy cheeks full of seeds or berries. Dragonflies from the nearby pond are whizzing around feasting on insects.

Our prairie plants are about to burst forth. They have funny names like rattlesnake master, queen of the prairie, nodding onion, butterfly weed and iron weed. Our raspberries are beginning to ripen and we hope we can pick them before the lady who regularly passes by our patch eats them. Berries on the many native bushes like spice bush, red-twig dogwood and pagoda dogwood, are ripening for the birds who will feast on them. The serviceberry trees have been picked clean by robins, catbirds, cedar waxwings and chipmunks. When evening comes, hundreds of lightning bug visitors will be visible.

My stroll is over. Take your own stroll in a park or garden, or just sit outside and renew your relationship with nature. “Sit and be still until in the time of no rain you hear beneath the dry wind’s commotion in the trees the sound of flowing water among the rocks, a stream unheard before, and you are where breathing is prayer.” Wendell Berry.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

What’s the Green New Deal?

Blog by Justice Promoter, Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

The pros and cons of the Green New Deal have frequently appeared in the press lately. But what is it?  As I did my research, it became clear to me that it’s a vision… a vision of what the United States should be. What country wouldn’t want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that threaten to increase climate disasters beyond return?  Or ensure that everyone has a job that can support his/her family? Or how about promoting justice and equity? It’s all about the Three E’s – Environment, Economy and Equality.

But “the devil is in the details” and it’s clear that what is proposed will need serious consideration and collaboration. This is a BIG, BIG, BIG effort. Most Americans like the principles of the Green New Deal.  In fact, a recent Yale survey found that 81% of registered voters across the political spectrum supported the broad goals presented in the proposal when presented free of political context.

Here are the main elements of the Green New Deal that would be implemented over a ten-year period: (Politifact)

On emissions:

  • eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions as much as technologically feasible
  • build or upgrade to energy-efficient, distributed, and ‘smart’ power grids, and ensure affordable access to electricity
  • work collaboratively with farmers and ranchers in the United States to remove pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector as much as is technologically feasible

On water:

  • guarantee universal access to clean water

On infrastructure:

  • build resiliency against climate change-related disasters, such as extreme weather
  • upgrade all existing buildings in the United States and building new buildings to achieve maximum energy efficiency, water efficiency, safety, affordability, comfort, and durability, including through electrification
  • provide clean, affordable, and accessible public transit, and high-speed rail

On scientific research:

  • make public investments in the research and development of new clean and renewable energy technologies and industries

On the oppressed:

  • promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression of indigenous peoples, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth

On education:

  • provide resources, training, and high-quality education, including higher education, to all people of the United States

On labor unions:

  • strengthen and protect the right of all workers to organize, unionize, and collectively bargain free of coercion, intimidation, and harassment

On social services:

  • guarantee a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the United States
  • provide all people of the United States with high-quality health care, affordable, safe, and adequate housing, and economic security

Ultimately, the goal would be to get the entire world to a net zero greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050 but it’s time the U.S. took a leadership role.

Back in 1932, candidate Franklin Roosevelt promised a new deal that would eventually pull the country out of the Great Depression.  Isn’t this the time to take bold steps to pull the United States and the world back from the brink of climate disaster.

 

 

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

We Should be Ashamed

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP, Justice Promoter

This morning’s Gospel highlighted a basic human command “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.” This past week has been filled with the horrendous conditions at the detention center in Clint, Texas.  How many parents would want their children to experience what the children in Customs and Border Patrol in Clint, Texas and Homestead, Florida are experiencing?  How many parents would want to feel the loss and terror of being separated from their children?

Is this what the United States has come to?  Keeping children locked up in overcrowded cages without soap, water, medical care. Sleeping on concrete floors for weeks?  I’m overwhelmed by sadness and anger when I read about these children.  No one should be treated in this way.  If Customs and Border Patrol cannot handle the influx of asylum seekers then money from other immigration, defense, or other sources should be used to help.  Use the resources that were to be spent on rounding up undocumented immigrants and deporting them to help the situation.

The United States has been abundantly blessed with rich resources, successful businesses, excellent educational institutions.  We value freedom of speech and religion.  We have always accepted immigrants even if we haven’t always been the most welcoming because they make us and our country better.  We profess to be a Christian country but we allow children to be treated in such a horrible way.  Call your representatives. Tell them that they should do what Christ commanded and treat others as they would want to be treated.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

For I was a (stranger) refugee and you welcomed me.

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP, Justice Promoter

This Thursday, June 20th is World Refugee Day, a day to commemorate the strength, courage, and perseverance of millions of refugees like Natalie. Born and raised in a small village in Ghana, Natalia’s family was struggling to pay the school fees for her education and welcomed the opportunity for Natalia to receive an education in the U.S.

Shortly after arriving, the father she was living with began to physically and sexually abuse her. For the next six years, she was forced to clean the house, wash clothes, cook, and care for their three children, often working 18 hours a day while receiving no form of payment.  She was never allowed to enroll in school as the family had promised, to go outside, or even use the phone.

One day, after she was severely beaten, Natalia saw an opportunity to run away and a neighbor called the police.  She was then taken to a local hospital for medical. The nurse assisting Natalia was aware of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center and referred her to Polaris New Jersey, an organization that works to combat and prevent human trafficking.

We have heard of the many reasons why men and women seek to flee their country of origin and go to another country – poverty, climate disasters, gang, and domestic violence, war.  It’s often hard for white Americans to understand this phenomenon and yet the vast majority of us have immigrant or refugee ancestors.

The United States has admitted, if not always welcomed, refugees from its beginnings. Refugees resettled here to rebuild their lives and contribute meaningfully to local economies. The U.S. Refugee Admissions Program is a model humanitarian program and critical tool of U.S. foreign policy.  Unfortunately, the number of refugees admitted each year has been reduced from an average of 95,000 to fewer than 30,000. There are two pro-refugee bills recently introduced in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

H.R. 2146 and S. 1088. The GRACE Act (Guaranteed Refugee Admissions Ceiling Enhancement Act) would set a minimum on refugee admissions of 95,000 each fiscal year.

H.R. 2214 and S. 1123. The NO BAN Act (National Origin Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants Act) would repeal the executive orders that have halted refugee admissions, banned individuals from Muslim-majority countries and barred individuals from seeking asylum between ports of entry. It would also strengthen the Immigration and Nationality Act to prohibit religious discrimination.

Sadly, as the number of legal refugees is reduced, more individuals are forced to look for illegal means that put them at greater risk of forced labor and human trafficking.  New immigrants may be susceptible to trafficking because of their precarious social and economic circumstances. Like Natalia above, they are pushed into the shadows allowing traffickers to use people’s immigration status as a tool to exploit their labor or coerce them into participating in the sex trade. More and more resources are being diminished or reduced undercutting anti-trafficking efforts and feeding into the hands of those who seek to exploit migrants and refugees.  It’s time to push for more just treatment of our brothers and sisters.


 

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Why You Should Vote for our Corporate Stance to Abolish the Death Penalty

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP, Justice Promoter

We, the Dominican Sisters of Peace and Associates, respect the dignity of human life from conception to natural death. Therefore, we believe that the death penalty should be abolished because it is contrary to our Catholic faith.  We urge immediate commutation of all death sentences and passage of legislation to repeal all statutes authorizing capital punishment at the state and federal levels. We pledge our support to efforts to abolish the death penalty.

Today we begin voting for our corporate stance for abolishing the death penalty.  There are many good reasons for eliminating the death penalty:

  • There are excessive costs for capital cases compared to non-capital cases.
  • It does not deter violence
  • Innocent people have/can be executed
  • The extraordinary amount of time it takes does not provide closure to victim’s families
  • Society can be protected from dangerous criminals without killing them
  • It discriminates against people in poverty and of color
  • Current methods of execution can be considered cruel and unusual punishment
  • Pope Francis changed the Catechism of the Catholic Church to state that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.”
  • Most importantly, it goes against our belief in the value of life from conception to natural death.

The abolition of the death penalty is not a new concept to us.  Several founding congregations had corporate stances prior to our becoming the Dominican Sisters of Peace.  In fact, as early as 1988, the Kentucky founding congregation took up this issue stating “We strongly oppose the death penalty.”  Perhaps their many years as early as the 1850’s of working with prisoners helped them to see each prisoner as a human being deserving a chance to live and to transform his/her life.

If we pass this corporate stance, we will begin praying more intentionally for those individuals being executed, for their families, and for the families of their victims.  We will work in our states to encourage laws that abolish the death penalty and/or for moratoriums on the death penalty.  And, we will continue to work with individuals in jails and prisons.

I hope you will vote to abolish this “attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.”

 

 

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog