"Peace will come when we love our children more than we hate our enemies." - Golda Meir
Watching the news recently requires nerves of steel, aspirin nearby, as well as a positive attitude that things can change. Within a few weeks we have viewed the horror of remnants of a commercial airline with 298 people aboard being shot down by militant separatists in Ukraine. While the world deals with this shock, Israel invades Gaza. Over 500 Palestinians are killed and over 3,000 injured. Food, medical supplies, and water are in short supply. Even though Iraq is not in the headlines, Iraqi citizens are still suffering as ISIS remains a threat. All this, while children from Central America flee the violence that threatens the lives of many.
Mossarat Qadeem, Executive Director of PAIMAN ("Promise") Alumni Trust, does not make the nightly news or the front page of The New York Times, despite the fact she has worked miracles in Pakistan. She works every day promoting sociopolitical and economic empowerment of marginalized Pakistanis, keeping families together. Her goal: turning young Pakistani boys away from extremism.
Good things happen when a group of mothers determine to act on behalf of families. These moms have decided that the gun culture in the United States is a threat to their families and families everywhere and are acting to change that culture.
A recent headline read: "Moms Wholesome Win: Chipotle says "No Guns!" When extremists brought semi-automatic guns into a Dallas-area restaurant, Moms went to work and gathered 10,000 names on a petition in just a few hours. In less than 48 hours Chipotle Mexican Grill responded: "…we are respectfully asking that customers not bring guns into our restaurants, unless they are authorized law enforcement personnel."
"The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life." - Jane Addams
In 1963, when President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law, women earned 59 cents for every dollar a man made for doing identical work. Today women who do the same type of work as men earn 77 cents for every dollar a male worker earns. This clear form of gender discrimination should be a no brainer, but isn't. Progress for women moves in inches and has become a political football.
"The reality is that violence and asymmetric warfare will remain a symptom of the new Iraq for the foreseeable future. This isn’t due to an alleged shortage of military capacities, but rather a reflection of what Iraq essentially is: an unreconciled, broken state, plagued by deep ethno sectarian cleavages, weak institutions and a political system prone to relapse toward an authoritarian order." - Ramze Mardini The New York Times
Many people are not aware of torture as a routine phenomenon in the world, but it was this reality that moved the United Nations to act. On June 26, 1987 the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment began, and the U.N. declared June 26th "International Day in Support of Victims of Torture."
Every day for the last month, I have driven by a large billboard in Louisville (KY) that announces a huge gun show coming to the city, an annual ritual that draws thousands from around the region. At the same time my car radio blasts, "Guns! Guns! Guns!" with the enthusiasm of a person who just won the lottery.
Gun shows are troubling because they are not required to include a background check on persons who purchase guns, so, as often happens, a convicted felon can go to a gun show and purchase guns without concern of being caught. Those who oppose universal background checks rely on myths to make a case:
In a Lenten study group I recently attended, some members shared that social justice was an area of their faith that they had not focused on. This is understandable, given the lack of education and airtime that social justice issues often receive from the pulpit and traditional Catholic study materials. In many Catholic Dioceses and fortunately in our Columbus Diocese, we have the opportunity to learn about social justice through Salt and Light Training. This six week study course, based on the book, "Becoming A Community of Salt and Light" by Peggy P. Heins, gives social concerns leaders and participants a rich, challenging framework with which to approach ministry.
"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." We are all familiar with this adage about charity and justice. Charity is vital in emergency situations but it does not resolve longer term problems. Social services agencies understand this dynamic and often provide counseling, job training and medical care along with free food at a soup kitchen or food pantry.