Peace & Justice Blog

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


 

Moving from Anger to Action

Blog by Conni Dubick, OPA

“When will you be angry enough, in God’s just anger, about the injustice to people in our world?  When will you have mourned enough over the gap between the way many people must live and the way God wants them to live?”

Emeritus Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson asked these two questions at a Eucharistic celebration that I attended a few years ago.  It was personal and transformative to me as an Associate of the Dominican Sisters of Peace.  The Bishop asked these questions at an outdoor liturgy with the beauty of the Sonoran Desert in the distance and the treachery of the desert beside the altar.  On the side of the altar, there was a prayer labyrinth displaying desert shoes…. shoes found in the desert…. high heels, baby shoes, sandals…. worn and torn …. shoes of the desert.

I pondered what was the message, the invitation, the imperative to me to act… “for I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” I knew there was a Corporate Stance on Immigration Reform declared by the Dominican Sisters of Peace.  But I had neglected to take the Corporate Stance seriously enough.

This two-day conference in the desert surrounded by dreams pursued, often lost in death or deportation, put a human face on this human rights issue. We listened to their stories until I realized that I was a part of the story as well.  I thought of Thomas Merton’s premise in his book, Conjectures of A Guilty Bystander, that I had heard about the “immigrant problem” and quietly observed from a distance.  But, as Merton said, “In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I was theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers.”

Today, after too many years of horrific policies and practices, there is an opportunity to move forward with concrete positive actions “to restore humanity and American values to our immigration system” through the passage of the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021.  The bill contains pathways to citizenship, keeping families together, embracing diversity, and addressing root causes of migration.

So, the Bishop Kicanas question remains for Dominican Sisters of Peace and the congregation’s associates … “When will you be angry enough in God’s just anger” to speak and act our response to the question. There are current Sisters/Associates who hear the cries of immigrant families and advocate already.  Is this the moment, with pending federal legislation that can make a real difference, that more of us move from observing to action? Please consider joining the DSOP Immigration Reform Committee by contacting cdubick@kent.edu for more information.

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Going Green in Winter – Focus on Prayer and Meals

Prepared by the Eco-Justice Commitee

PRAYER

  1. In daily personal prayer spend contemplative time outdoors or looking out a window praying with and for the EARTH.
  2. Allow current issues, like climate change, mountaintop removal, Keystone XL Pipeline to be spur to prayer.
  3. When you are the leader of corporate prayer include EARTH in spoken intentions/petitions, or design a weekly prayer for EARTH needs.
  4. Choose a location and time of day that can accommodate you or your group and which has immediate access to the outdoors (weather permitting).
  5. If your gathering space is indoors, plan to include EARTH elements in the setting, especially, EARTH, Air, Fire and Water.
  6. In your ministry—within parish, school, family or volunteer activities raise up EARTH concerns when you are gathered for prayer.
  7. Placing intercessions among others concerning the EARTH during weekend Masses and also during PSR sessions.

MEALS:

  1. As you say grace before meals (and after) thank not only God but the EARTH and all who till and care for her for the food you have.
  2. Use a cloth napkin and remember why you do so. Be grateful for the trees saved by not using disposables.
  3. Choose locally-grown, in-season foods whenever possible—shopping at Farmers’ Markets or buying through a CSA or buying club.
  4. Cook at least one meal “from scratch” each week, taking the time to be creative, learn new recipes, expand your taste buds and support your health.
    • Try to eliminate processed foods
    • Use leftovers
    • Ask for locally produced food
  1. Don’t forget to use those items you canned in the fall
  2. If you eat meals prepared by others—whether a food-service, in-house cafeteria, or even a local restaurant (NOT fast food) ask kitchen staff/manager to utilize fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables whenever possible. Be sure to compliment them when they do—and eat heartily!
  3. Read labels—note country of origin, number of long-syllable chemical ingredients, whether it contains GMO ingredients (or proclaims that it doesn’t since the US doesn’t demand fair labeling), as well as looking for Organic items.
  4. Don’t buy products with excess packaging (e.g. wrapped “single-serving” items) or use single-use paper and plastic ware, etc. Avoid Styrofoam always.  If you must use disposables, take the time to locate recycled and compostable products—then do it!
  5. Never use hot, running water to defrost frozen foods. Plan ahead and place frozen items in the refrigerator overnight or use the microwave oven
  6. Rinse vegetables and fruits in a sink or a pan filled with water instead of under running water.

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

What’s Next for Women? From History to Future

Blog by Justice Promoter Sister Judy Morris, OP

There is much to celebrate as we enter Women’s History Month.  When President Carter declared the week of March 8, 1980, Women’s History Week, later to become Women’s History Month, it was hard to find women in leadership roles in government, business, and most professional fields.  Since 1980, we celebrate the presence of three women on the US Supreme Court, twenty-four women in the US Senate, 119 in the House of Representatives, 2,279 in state legislatures, and the first woman to serve as Vice President of the United States.

Now women in the United States Senate are not told they cannot wear pants suits, as was the case with Senator Barbara Mikulski.  Senator Mikulski decided to challenge the unwritten law in 1993, and since that day women appear on the Senate floor wearing pants suits.  While it is comical, it points to the long-held belief by men in power that they can decide what is appropriate apparel, education, or behavior for women.

We celebrate the passage of Title IX, enabling women in college to be protected against discrimination based on sex in education and athletic programs.  Funding prior to this law provided large financial support for men’s athletic teams, while women suffered because of a lack of funding. Sadly, women in professional sports are still vastly underpaid compared to their male counterparts.

Fast forward to 2021.  While progress for women has been made in certain areas, one troubling area of concern remains as a real threat to their wellbeing.  Violence against women continues to occur at a record pace.  According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, women experience about 4.8 million intimate partner-related physical assaults and rapes in a year, and less than 20% sought treatment.  At least 200 million women and girls have undergone genital mutilation in 31 countries, with the largest number in West Africa.

In 1994, President Clinton signed the Violence Against Women Act.  It has had several lifetimes, was renewed in the House in 2019 but stalled in the Senate because it included a provision to expand firearms laws to prohibit persons convicted of dating violence from possessing firearms. Interestingly, this provision would protect men as well as women.

Some objected to the provision for Native American women, which protects them by improving tribal access to federal crime information, reaffirming tribal criminal jurisdiction over non-Indian perpetrators of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. This would protect Native American women and extend additional protections to children and the elderly as well.

The bill, if approved, would preserve and expand housing protections for survivors.   It would update the SMART Prevention Program to reduce dating violence, help children who have been exposed to violence, and engage men in preventing violence.

As the old commercial said, “We’ve come a long way…” but we have a long way to go. Let’s continue to celebrate the progress made in women’s rights, and contact our senators, urging them to support the Violence Against Women Act.  We could save a life!

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Reconciling with Earth During Lent

Blog by Sr. Roberta Miller

Stop the World, I Want to Get Off!

Some will remember this 1961 musical, but is this you today? Certainly, we are besieged with calamities, deprivations, and violence. Do we scream “Enough! Let me escape from all this pressure!” Or is it “How long God will this go on?”

Perhaps we are in the midst of creating a new and sacred story this Lenten season. We are being immersed in a time of change/evolution—personally as well as collectively. Relationship is one of the key elements—with God, with self, with those around and far away. Creation is mine, says God. Do we/I really own that Truth in life/daily living? Do we/I see the beauties outside our windows or in the persons met? In my reflections do I connect my life choices/activities with their impact upon creation and the lives of the poor and vulnerable?

A Syrian living in a tent camp this winter within that ravaged county gives us a direction for our Lenten renewal: “In Syria we lose sometimes the taste of food and life but we can’t lose the taste of giving that sweetens our life.”

Over these Lenten weeks, as winter turns into Spring, in conjunction with Laudato Si and urging of “Making Peace with Nature” report by the UN Environment Program, the Eco-justice Committee offers you its “Going Green in Winter” series. Each section (Food, Home, Energy, Water, Earth) calls us to reflection and action for the sake of sustaining God’s Creation.

To prepare you for this series, we share this special video. Regina Loayza, a member of Proyecto Mariposa and Rising Youth under our Common Spirit grant, has created a TED talk in which she begins with her personal experiences of climate change, heat, and pollution in family visits to Peru. Using the metaphor of a sewing needle, she ‘sews’ for us the fabric for climate change legislation through which everyone has access to healthy air, water, and land, well-being, and economic security. Click here to view her talk.

 

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Stand Against “Stand Your Ground”

“Stand Your Ground.”

Blog by Justice Promoter Sister Judy Morris, OP

Sounds like self-defense, but is it?

Apparently, legislators in 34 states think so, when they passed “Stand Your Ground” legislation. Click here to learn more about Stand Your Ground laws from Giffords.org.

Florida is one of the 34 states with a Stand Your Ground law, with a notable murder in 2012 when George Zimmerman killed Treyvon Martin, an unarmed Black teenager.  Zimmerman pursued Treyvon, under the stereotypical assumption that Treyvon was in a white neighborhood to rob one of the houses.  He shot and killed Treyvon, who was holding candy, not a gun.  The ending of the trial was predictable, with Zimmerman being acquitted under the Stand Your Ground law.  This murder was the genesis of the modern Black Lives Matter movement.

Why should opposing the Stand Your Ground law matter?  According to Everytown for Gun Safety, there are several compelling reasons to oppose such legislation:

  • Research has shown that these laws are associated with increases in firearm homicides.
  • Often individuals who invoke Stand Your Ground have violent criminal histories.
  • Stand Your Ground cases have often been skewed unfairly against people of color.
  • Stand Your Ground laws change the nature of gun violence in a state by encouraging the escalation of violence, and, according to research, do nothing to deter violent crime.

Click here to read a recent study from Everytown For Gun Safety.

What can citizens do to address this “license to kill,”  masquerading as self-defense?  If you live in a state that has not has not passed a Stand Your Ground law or is considering passing such a law, it is critical to call, write or meet with your state representative or senator and urge opposition to the bill.  A letter to the editor on the issue is also helpful, and may encourage others to do the same.

Resources on gun safety include:  Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

As we continue to address systemic racism, the issue of gun violence against African Americans needs to be an important issue for discussion. Stand your Ground Laws are often used to justify gun violence against people of color, as detailed in this report from the Giffords.org and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

In addition, Stand Expert Laws often do not extend to people of color protecting themselves from attacks by white perpetrators. According to FBI data in over 2,600 homicide cases,  In Stand Your Ground states, homicides were ruled justified in 45% of cases involving a white shooter and Black victim, but just 11% of cases involving a Black shooter and white victim.

Stand Your Ground laws signal a state’s unmistakable support for armed public confrontations, not a way to encourage safety or peace. As people of peace, we need to speak up for repeal and to prevent these dangerous laws from spreading across our nation.

 

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog