Imagine this - a rigged national election. The popular candidate garnered more votes and precincts but still did not win. Now imagine the population refusing to sit back, to throw up their collective hands, to give in to apathy. Such is the story of the "Orange Revolution," the 2004 presidential election in the Ukraine, a tale with lessons for us.
On the Road to Peace
Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, the late archbishop of Chicago, was right. The best way to pursue the narrow path and uphold the length, breadth, height and depth of God's love is through a consistent ethic of life, which does not pick and choose between issues but faithfully adheres to all the issues, and says no to every form of violence -- war, racism, sexism, poverty, starvation, the death penalty, abortion, nuclear weapons, global warming and every injustice. Such an ethic renounces every type of killing. And in doing so, it promotes life everywhere and welcomes God's reign of nonviolence in our midst.
In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., last week to speak at the National Convention of Unitarian Universalists, I met my old friend Bruce Friedrich. We spent eight memorable months together in a tiny jail cell, along with Philip Berrigan, for our 1993 Plowshares disarmament action. A former Catholic Worker, Bruce is now one of the leaders of PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. He gave a brilliant workshop on the importance of becoming a vegetarian, something I urge everyone to consider.
A few weeks ago, I was in Oaxaca, Mexico, on retreat with Maryknoll Lay Missioners who serve and accompany the poor. One of the most beautiful places in Mexico, Oaxaca has a gorgeous main plaza and never-ending market, but 75 percent of its people, most of them indigenous, suffer grinding poverty, thanks to NAFTA and multi-national corporations.
"This is the best monastic building in the country," Thomas Merton wrote on May 17, 1968, while visiting the Monastery of Christ in the Desert in northern New Mexico. I drove over there last week, near Abiquiu, a hauntingly beautiful corner of the world and tasted for myself the "peace which the world cannot give."
The death penalty will be abolished. It's just a matter of time now." So said Mike Farrell, star of M*A*S*H and a leading opponent of the death penalty, in a recent visit to Santa Fe. Such words a decade ago might have rung hollow. But now they strike a loud chord. New Jersey's abolishing the death penalty this past January fills the air with hope.
Last month in Santa Fe, Pax Christi New Mexico held its first Assembly Day, and just this past weekend in Albuquerque, held its annual retreat. What a healing time we had, these gathered souls. Together, were building a base-community movement for justice and peace. Therein lies the hope in Pax Christis vision.
I was in Washington, D.C. last week for the opening day of the trial of 35 friends and peacemakers who dared to protest the indefinite detention and torture of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They did their best over several days to speak in court on behalf of those who never had a day in court.
|On the Road to Peace by John Dear S.J.||Tuesday, May 27, 2008|
|Vol. 2, No. 38|
My friend Sr. Hildegarde Smith died April 25, at the headquarters of the Sisters of Christian Charity in Wilmette, Ill. She and I had served together at the parish of Cimarron, N.M. and its missions for several years. Last New Year's Eve, she suffered a stroke that hampered her movement and left her unable to speak. She never recovered.
Yesterday (May 19) commemorates an historic occasion. It marks 40 years since the shattering gesture of the Catonsville Nine, those illustrious Catholic resisters, including Daniel and Philip Berrigan. With intent and purpose, they entered a draft board center in the Knights of Columbus Hall near Baltimore, and there they hauled draft files out to the parking lot and, in a bonfire of home-made napalm, set them ablaze.