After the United States Select Committee on Intelligence released its report last week, reaction was swift and passionate. The Seattle Times described the 500 page summary report of atrocities as "cringe-worthy sadism, done in the name of national security that ranks among America's most sickening actions."
Fear and anger are natural consequences of the 9/11 attack on the United States. For many citizens the response was one of sacrifice and generosity - our better angels were on display. Political leaders and CIA authorities ignored their better angels and determined to do whatever deemed necessary to punish Al Quaeda and end terrorists' threats. After 9/11 international laws were ignored.
I live on the other side of murder. I have not lost a loved to murder...yet. I do not turn away from the "M" word. I cannot run from the experience of knowing the people behind the stories.
Being part of the Central Ohio Chapter of Parents of Murdered Children/Other Homicide Victims Survivors (POMC) has put me in touch with dimensions of grief that most will never experience: the dreaded phone call and reporters; law enforcement, coroners, prosecutors and defense attorneys; plea bargains and trials, sentences and convictions; appeals and parole blocks; and a judicial system that doesn't always mete out justice—and that's if the killer is apprehended. I continue to learn more than I ever wanted about "murder" issues; but this is the life of a survivor of a homicide victim(s). And I am there to support them.
These words, set to music, paint a collage of memories for me. Each year they are heard during the annual November Vigil at the School of the Americas, or WHINSEC. Through the years thousands of voices have carried the story of why we continue to hope and to pray for, not for just a conversion, but a transformation of peace in our United States policies.
One vote. That's what it took to defeat the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline bill. Of course, this controversial issue is not going away.
Is anyone communicating with facts? Those who support the pipeline continue in mantra-like form to proclaim that the pipeline is good for the economy. Is it really? The Courier-Journal reported that the creation of the pipeline would only produce 35 permanent jobs, another report indicated a maximum of 50 jobs. The pipe used in the pipeline would be produced in India, not in the U.S. The oil would go to other countries.
Recently I received word that a former co-worker from Chicago died. As tributes arrived, I was moved by one that described his devotion to the homeless. He was always prepared to meet homeless men and women on the street, giving them hats and gloves. In Chicago winters they are vital! He also carried $5 McDonalds gift cards, perhaps providing the only food for the day.
He made eye contact! I say that because that often does not happen with many people. It is easy, on a busy day, to walk on by. Perhaps the most important response is to make eye contact, even if we don’t give a donation. Unfortunately, the homeless are not disappearing; in fact, 610,042 people experience homelessness on any given day in the United States. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, 23% of the homeless population are children.
Israeli foreign policy under its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been taking a tragic trajectory leading to moral decline and diplomatic isolation for the State and Jewish people. This is recognized currently by 106 senior Israeli security personnel who call upon him to initiate a diplomatic process based upon a regional framework for peace with Palestinians. Millions of Palestinians kept under Israeli military occupation for 60 years dehumanizes both peoples. Exclusionary apartheid laws, segregated roads and housing developments plus land confiscations, home demolitions, control of water and financial monies create resentment, anger, and the hopeless of violence for the Palestinians of Gaza and West Bank. Superiority, contempt, self-righteousness and loss of humanity afflict Israelis as they live in isolation from non-Jews in their country.
The post mortem on the 2014 elections will soon be in editorials in papers around the country and flooding the airways. Political ads have been especially negative, even mean-spirited. Since I am often in the car, I frequently turn to the classical music station to remove the toxic air coming from the radio.
Any discussion of the election must include a discussion of the ill-advised Citizens United ruling by the US Supreme Court. This decision in 2010 permitted unlimited corporate and union donations to be considered political free speech. The court allowed groups to refrain from disclosing their identity, and have become known as "dark money groups" who can spend unlimited money to support or unseat a candidate. The court opened the floodgates to contributions. In fact, over $4 billion has been spent to date.
Soon the unrelenting cacophony of political ads will end. More heat than light has come from this routine exercise. What is missing in debates, ads and stump speeches of politicians around the country?
One concern that never surfaces is a broken judicial system that continues to be racist. Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, is an important voice on the issue. He notes that 1 in 3 African American men in the United States are in jail, on probation or on parole. One in six Latino boys will be in prison. He further states that 14 states have no minimum age for trying a child as an adult and 10-year-olds are being prosecuted as adults. They are put in adult jails and many are raped or abused.
If you have noticed people wearing purple ribbons during October, they are working to bring awareness to domestic violence and all who suffer from its effects. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence initiated Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October 1981, with a goal of connecting battered women’s advocates across the country who were working to end violence against women and their children. Programs mourned those who have died because of domestic violence, celebrated those who have survived and connected those who work to end violence. One of the most important actions coming in 1989 was establishing a toll-free hotline.
As by now, most Americans have seen coverage, extensive and from various angles of the events leading up to and after the death of Michael Brown. So I will not be blogging to the obvious, but what I would like to do is to take a look at this event from a different perspective.