Every month, one of our Sisters or Associates writes a reflection on a topic related to social justice. We welcome you to read and reflect on these essays, contemplating your own thoughts on these important issues of our day.
Sixteen sisters representing 13 religious congregations came from across the country to meet in Washington, DC, September 17-18, 2013. It was the second meeting of US Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking (USCSAHT), and my first. I glanced around the room, still a little humbled by the privilege of being present. I was the only Dominican Sister at this core group that is beginning to shape the direction of a newly launched organization called forth by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, and I was glad that the Dominican Sisters and Associates of Peace have a seat at this table. Our corporate stance against human trafficking continues to become a living document.
In interpersonal relationships, even with close friends, most of us at some time have felt angry, hurt or distanced from someone who has misunderstood what we have said or done, or who has failed to acknowledge our assistance. You may have experienced a defensive reaction when you attempted to talk about a hurt, which resulted in can be called I'm Sorry, The New Blame Game, presented in an article written by Sharon Strand Ellison.
There is an authentic way to apologize that is not defensive, that does not engage in blaming, does no harm, and thus is peace-promoting. With a healthy or authentic apology, we can state clearly what we did that was disrespectful or inconsiderate without:
I walk a few steps behind them, inching forward, hoping at some point to walk side by side. I cannot walk in their shoes. I haven't had anyone I love murdered. Thank God.
As a member of the Central Ohio Chapter of Parents of Murdered Children/Homicide Victims/Survivors, I recently attended the National POMC Conference held in Cincinnati, Ohio. Name badges identified the participants as parent, sibling, grandparent, and other relationships to those murdered. My badge had the designation "friend."
In this time of struggle for immigration reform, the story of Beti illustrates the challenges many undocumented immigrants face in efforts to save their lives or reunite with family.
Beti was born in 1992 in Guatemala to a very ordinary family. Their country was in the midst of a civil war in which the military, trained by School of the Americas graduates, were slaughtering or disappearing whole villages. When she was one and a half her father escaped after given the choice to fight with the gorillas or be killed. He made his way to the U.S. but did not have the money to file for political asylum.
When she was seven her mother left Beti with grandparents and came to join her husband.
"It is what it is." This tautology has become a part of present-day commonspeak, meaning, it's happened, it's the situation, there's nothing to be done. This ubiquitous expression rises from the conventional imagination, the ideas and expectations that we take for granted in our civil societies and settled worlds. "That's the way the system works, the way of the world. Get used to it. Nothing ever changes. Nobody listens. What's the use of trying? You can't fight City Hall - or Wall Street."
Some local citizens have heard about a proposed Bluegrass Pipeline to run through Nelson and 17 other Kentucky counties on its way from Pennsylvania and New York to the Gulf area. Some haven't. Many are seeking more information. It might be helpful to lay out some of the issues from the perspective of community sustainability.
After ten years of campaigning and six years of diplomatic negotiations, the UN General Assembly voted to approve an historic treaty to regulate international trade in conventional weapons on April 3, 2013. When ratified, its content will become part of International Law. The vote was 154 (including the United States) approving; three opposing (Iraq, Syria, North Korea); and 23 abstentions. Many of the abstentions came from nations such as Bahrain, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka, which are guilty of egregious human rights violations.
The treaty would obligate governments to weigh all arms transfers against the risks that weapons pose for human rights issues: terrorism, trans-national organized crime, harm to the natural order, war, and genocide.
"What you do to the least of these people, you do to me." ~ Matthew 25:40
Polls say that about nine million Americans (about 3.8%) identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). Other research suggests this number is low because individuals self-identifying as such places them at risk. A conservative estimate is that LGBT people make up about 10% of the US population.
"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!" I remember hearing this sing-song chant as a child. What a LIE! I suppose it was our best line of defense when the prevailing belief was that the best way to deal with bullying was to ignore it. Today, school bullying and cyber bullying statistics show that 77% of students are bullied mentally, verbally, and physically and that one in five students admits to doing some bullying (US Bureau of Justice School Bullying and Cyberbulling Statistics). I think it should be obvious to all of us that those numbers are begging not to be ignored.