For some, demonstrations are a symbol of the 1960s. The Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act did not become a reality because of luck or good timing, but through the relentless effort of African Americans and people of many cultures who demonstrated in the streets, in restaurants, schools and other areas off limits to African Americans. This was "holy work" because it was a model of nonviolence, prayer and a refusal to demonize those who upheld segregation.
"We have inherited a big house, a great world house in which we have to live together—black and white, Easterners and Westerners, Gentiles and Jews, Catholics and Protestants, Muslims and Hindu, a family separated in ideas, culture, and interests, who, because we can never again live without each other, must learn somehow, in this one big world, to live with each other." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
In a recent issue of The Atlantic, Pope Francis is portrayed as a radical on the environment. In a talk at the Italian University of Molise he expressed his concern about the environment as "one of the greatest challenges of our time." He said, "...When I look at so many forests, all cut, that become land that can no longer give life...this is our sin, exploiting the Earth. This is one of the greatest challenges of our time - to convert ourselves to a type of development that knows how to respect creation." This is not only a sin, but "our sin," "the major sin of our time." A papal letter about humankind’s relationship with the environment will be published this year.
For some, the election of the country's first African-American president demonstrated the end of or the reduction of racism in the United States. I believe that theory had a short life. The examples of racism in our culture remain numerous.
When President Obama gave a State of the Union address early in his presidency a representative in the chamber shouted, "You lie!" Never in the history of such an important gathering did white presidents experience such disrespect. This representative received the largest donations for his reelection than ever before. At the last Republican National Convention a delegate threw peanuts at an African-American cameraman and shouted, "This is what we feed the animals!"
The sound I have often heard in the last few weeks is a collective sigh of relief that 2014 is almost over. This year has challenged the strongest person of faith and greatest optimist. The terrorism of ISIS fighters, violent rhetoric from North Korea, an Ebola outbreak, and ever escalating gun violence challenge us each day. We often respond with petitions, phone calls to legislators, a national demonstration in New York or Columbus, Georgia and prayer. Our voices and resilience remain important.
I love the Christmas season. The spirit of the season is energizing, with parties galore, neighborhoods enveloped in lights, music that lightens the day, but above all, generosity that touches many lives.
Christmas is the season when we notice the homeless and poor more than any time. Go to any grocery or shopping mall and a Salvation Army volunteer is ringing a bell. Parishes and stores sponsor angel trees, with the opportunity to sponsor a family in need. Even with a generous response to all the requests for donations, nonprofit groups are falling short of reaching goals. The Salvation Army has only reached half of its goal, with three days left until Christmas.
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.