Peace & Justice Blog

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


 

Take the Challenge

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

Over the past 29 days, we’ve prayed for the victims of mass shootings in our daily prayer on Facebook.  Twenty-nine was the number of those killed in El Paso and Dayton and we started our litany right after those shootings.  We prayed for 432 individuals killed and 794 injured in mass shootings.

These are only a faction of the mass shootings occurring in the U.S. on a regular bases and don’t include the average of 100 people killed each day by gun violence. Those killed are men and women, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, siblings, friends, co-workers, neighbors… all killed by gun violence. Is this the reward of living the second amendment in such a broad way?

In a study by the Children’s Defense Fund in September 2018, children were asked about what worried them the most. The top two responses?  Being bullied (42%) and a shooting happening at school (33%). One third of children go to school anxious about their safety.

At a Big Table gathering in Columbus, I sat with four high school students from both inner city and suburban high schools.  They described being afraid that their school would be the next site of a shooting or strategized about the best place to hide from a shooter. (Not under the desk – too obvious.)  Kids should think about their futures not their deaths.

What’s next?  Will everyone need to lose someone close to them to do something? Anything?

So here’s my challenge, sisters and associates – write a personal, handwritten letter to one of your senators and demand that they act on common sense gun safety legislation.  Tell them how gun violence has touched you… your family… your students. Use your righteous indignation to demand change.  Remember gun safety is a pro-life issue.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

400 Years of Slavery

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

In August, 1619, a ship docked in Fort Comfort, Virginia. “Twenty and odd Negroes” were sold for food. It marked the beginning of the slave trade in the United States. This past weekend, there were many ceremonies to commemorate the 400th anniversary of slavery.  They were not celebrations because how can you celebrate that human beings were considered chattel – to be used and sold. But they were vital events to recognize the role of slavery in so many lives.

Take a minute to think about this concept.  How would you feel if you were considered someone’s property?  You could be bought or sold, forced to work long hours, beaten and raped. Your children could be taken away.  All because of your color, nationality, or gender.

The legacy of slavery includes the Civil War, Jim Crow, lynching, race riots, segregated schools and housing, the school to prison pipeline and the deaths of innocent black boys and men. It touches each of us regardless of our color – black, brown, yellow or white. “If [one] part suffers, all the parts suffer with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:26)

In Columbus, the Spirituality Network (an organization that we have longed worked in and sponsored) hosted a programs called 400 Years – Africans in America: I Am an Answered Prayer. Each presenter provided some insight in how slavery touches the very DNA of each person and our country.  If one is taught that he/she is not valued, in fact, not even fully human, is it surprising that they would struggle to value their own lives or the lives of others?  Or that others – immigrants, LGBTQ, or individuals with disabilities – would also be treated as less valuable?  Entire communities are treated as not deserving of clean water, clean air, quality education, safety, et cetera because of their color.

So we have reached a cross-road.  Which way America? Will we agree to face the last 400 years, recognize what we have done and are doing to others, acknowledge our own white privilege, and recognize the humanity of all people? Will we help young black and brown children who think their future is to be poor reverse that vision? Will we continue to perpetuate Mafaa, the great tragedy, that stereotypes people of color and enslaves them in hopelessness?

Frederick Douglass once said “The white man’s happiness cannot be purchased by the black man’s misery.” It’s time to stop the misery of all people of color.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

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