Activism

You are currently browsing the archive for the Activism category.

Joe, Ardeth and Carol were able to participate in the recent Holy Innocents witness at the Pentagon. Joe helped out with the singing, while Ardeth and Carol got themselves arrested for the sake of peace, and for the children who are so often the victims of war. This year’s witness was a special commemoration of Fr. Dan Berrigan, SJ, who died this past April 30. There were many bigger-than-life-size Dan Berrigan cut-outs carried to the Pentagon. Quite of few of them got arrested!

Photos care of Lin Romano.

Here Ardeth and Carol, and others, have taken the hill overlooking the Metro entrance to the Pentagon. It’s 7am – dawn on December 28.

 

The sisterhood of protesters are cuffed and wait to be taken away.

From behind you can see Ardeth and Carol waiting to be loaded onto the police van.

Here are folks in the supposed free speech pen, including some friends visiting from South Korea.

Madonna and child (and “Uncle” Dan) at the Pentagon.

Here is a poster showing the famous picture from the witness of Dan and Phil Berrigan as part of the Catonsville 9 in 1968.


Those not arrested leave the Pentagon. Joe holds the speaker and helps lead song.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrss

Note: This message on nonviolence by Pope Francis was issued on New Year’s Day, the World Day of Peace. Sr. Carol shared it with us at our Sunday liturgy on New Year’s Day. Now we share it with you.

 

Nonviolence: a Style of Politics for Peace

1. At the beginning of this New Year, I offer heartfelt wishes of peace to the world’s peoples and nations, to heads of state and government, and to religious, civic and community leaders. I wish peace to every man, woman and child, and I pray that the image and likeness of God in each person will enable us to acknowledge one another as sacred gifts endowed with immense dignity. Especially in situations of conflict, let us respect this, our “deepest dignity”,[1] and make active nonviolence our way of life.

This is the fiftieth Message for the World Day of Peace. In the first, Blessed Pope Paul VI addressed all peoples, not simply Catholics, with utter clarity. “Peace is the only true direction of human progress – and not the tensions caused by ambitious nationalisms, nor conquests by violence, nor repressions which serve as mainstay for a false civil order”. He warned of “the danger of believing that international controversies cannot be resolved by the ways of reason, that is, by negotiations founded on law, justice, and equity, but only by means of deterrent and murderous forces.” Instead, citing the encyclical Pacem in Terris of his predecessor Saint John XXIII, he extolled “the sense and love of peace founded upon truth, justice, freedom and love”. [2] In the intervening fifty years, these words have lost none of their significance or urgency.

On this occasion, I would like to reflect on nonviolence as a style of politics for peace. I ask God to help all of us to cultivate nonviolence in our most personal thoughts and values. May charity and nonviolence govern how we treat each other as individuals, within society and in international life. When victims of violence are able to resist the temptation to retaliate, they become the most credible promotors of nonviolent peacemaking. In the most local and ordinary situations and in the international order, may nonviolence become the hallmark of our decisions, our relationships and our actions, and indeed of political life in all its forms.

A broken world

2. While the last century knew the devastation of two deadly World Wars, the threat of nuclear war and a great number of other conflicts, today, sadly, we find ourselves engaged in a horrifying world war fought piecemeal. It is not easy to know if our world is presently more or less violent than in the past, or to know whether modern means of communications and greater mobility have made us more aware of violence, or, on the other hand, increasingly inured to it.

In any case, we know that this “piecemeal” violence, of different kinds and levels, causes great suffering: wars in different countries and continents; terrorism, organized crime and unforeseen acts of violence; the abuses suffered by migrants and victims of human trafficking; and the devastation of the environment. Where does this lead? Can violence achieve any goal of lasting value? Or does it merely lead to retaliation and a cycle of deadly conflicts that benefit only a few “warlords”?

Violence is not the cure for our broken world. Countering violence with violence leads at best to forced migrations and enormous suffering, because vast amounts of resources are diverted to military ends and away from the everyday needs of young people, families experiencing hardship, the elderly, the infirm and the great majority of people in our world. At worst, it can lead to the death, physical and spiritual, of many people, if not of all.

The Good News

3. Jesus himself lived in violent times. Yet he taught that the true battlefield, where violence and peace meet, is the human heart: for “it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come” (Mk 7:21). But Christ’s message in this regard offers a radically positive approach. He unfailingly preached God’s unconditional love, which welcomes and forgives. He taught his disciples to love their enemies (cf. Mt 5:44) and to turn the other cheek (cf. Mt 5:39). When he stopped her accusers from stoning the woman caught in adultery (cf. Jn 8:1-11), and when, on the night before he died, he told Peter to put away his sword (cf. Mt26:52), Jesus marked out the path of nonviolence. He walked that path to the very end, to the cross, whereby he became our peace and put an end to hostility (cf. Eph 2:14-16). Whoever accepts the Good News of Jesus is able to acknowledge the violence within and be healed by God’s mercy, becoming in turn an instrument of reconciliation. In the words of Saint Francis of Assisi: “As you announce peace with your mouth, make sure that you have greater peace in your hearts”.[3]

To be true followers of Jesus today also includes embracing his teaching about nonviolence. As my predecessor Benedict XVI observed, that teaching “is realistic because it takes into account that in the world there is too much violence, too much injustice, and therefore that this situation cannot be overcome except by countering it with more love, with more goodness. This ‘more’comes from God”.[4] He went on to stress that: “For Christians, nonviolence is not merely tactical behaviour but a person’s way of being, the attitude of one who is so convinced of God’s love and power that he or she is not afraid to tackle evil with the weapons of love and truth alone. Love of one’s enemy constitutes the nucleus of the ‘Christian revolution’”.[5] The Gospel command to love your enemies (cf. Lk 6:27) “is rightly considered the magna carta of Christian nonviolence. It does not consist in succumbing to evil…, but in responding to evil with good (cf. Rom 12:17-21), and thereby breaking the chain of injustice”.[6]

More powerful than violence

4. Nonviolence is sometimes taken to mean surrender, lack of involvement and passivity, but this is not the case. When Mother Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, she clearly stated her own message of active nonviolence: “We in our family don’t need bombs and guns, to destroy to bring peace – just get together, love one another… And we will be able to overcome all the evil that is in the world”.[7] For the force of arms is deceptive. “While weapons traffickers do their work, there are poor peacemakers who give their lives to help one person, then another and another and another”; for such peacemakers, Mother Teresa is “a symbol, an icon of our times”.[8] Last September, I had the great joy of proclaiming her a Saint. I praised her readiness to make herself available for everyone “through her welcome and defence of human life, those unborn and those abandoned and discarded… She bowed down before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-given dignity; she made her voice heard before the powers of this world, so that they might recognize their guilt for the crimes – the crimes! – of poverty they created”.[9] In response, her mission – and she stands for thousands, even millions of persons – was to reach out to the suffering, with generous dedication, touching and binding up every wounded body, healing every broken life.

The decisive and consistent practice of nonviolence has produced impressive results. The achievements of Mahatma Gandhi and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in the liberation of India, and of Dr Martin Luther King Jr in combating racial discrimination will never be forgotten. Women in particular are often leaders of nonviolence, as for example, was Leymah Gbowee and the thousands of Liberian women, who organized pray-ins and nonviolent protest that resulted in high-level peace talks to end the second civil war in Liberia.

Nor can we forget the eventful decade that ended with the fall of Communist regimes in Europe. The Christian communities made their own contribution by their insistent prayer and courageous action. Particularly influential were the ministry and teaching of Saint John Paul II. Reflecting on the events of 1989 in his 1991 Encyclical Centesimus Annus, my predecessor highlighted the fact that momentous change in the lives of people, nations and states had come about “by means of peaceful protest, using only the weapons of truth and justice”.[10] This peaceful political transition was made possible in part “by the non-violent commitment of people who, while always refusing to yield to the force of power, succeeded time after time in finding effective ways of bearing witness to the truth”. Pope John Paul went on to say: “May people learn to fight for justice without violence, renouncing class struggle in their internal disputes and war in international ones”.[11]
The Church has been involved in nonviolent peacebuilding strategies in many countries, engaging even the most violent parties in efforts to build a just and lasting peace.

Such efforts on behalf of the victims of injustice and violence are not the legacy of the Catholic Church alone, but are typical of many religious traditions, for which “compassion and nonviolence are essential elements pointing to the way of life”.[12] I emphatically reaffirm that “no religion is terrorist”.[13] Violence profanes the name of God.[14] Let us never tire of repeating: “The name of God cannot be used to justify violence. Peace alone is holy. Peace alone is holy, not war!”[15]

The domestic roots of a politics of nonviolence

5. If violence has its source in the human heart, then it is fundamental that nonviolence be practised before all else within families. This is part of that joy of love which I described last March in my Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, in the wake of two years of reflection by the Church on marriage and the family. The family is the indispensable crucible in which spouses, parents and children, brothers and sisters, learn to communicate and to show generous concern for one another, and in which frictions and even conflicts have to be resolved not by force but by dialogue, respect, concern for the good of the other, mercy and forgiveness.[16] From within families, the joy of love spills out into the world and radiates to the whole of society.[17] An ethics of fraternity and peaceful coexistence between individuals and among peoples cannot be based on the logic of fear, violence and closed-mindedness, but on responsibility, respect and sincere dialogue. Hence, I plead for disarmament and for the prohibition and abolition of nuclear weapons: nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutual assured destruction are incapable of grounding such an ethics.[18] I plead with equal urgency for an end to domestic violence and to the abuse of women and children.

The Jubilee of Mercy that ended in November encouraged each one of us to look deeply within and to allow God’s mercy to enter there. The Jubilee taught us to realize how many and diverse are the individuals and social groups treated with indifference and subjected to injustice and violence. They too are part of our “family”; they too are our brothers and sisters. The politics of nonviolence have to begin in the home and then spread to the entire human family. “Saint Therese of Lisieux invites us to practise the little way of love, not to miss out on a kind word, a smile or any small gesture which sows peace and friendship. An integral ecology is also made up of simple daily gestures that break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness”.[19]

My invitation

6. Peacebuilding through active nonviolence is the natural and necessary complement to the Church’s continuing efforts to limit the use of force by the application of moral norms; she does so by her participation in the work of international institutions and through the competent contribution made by so many Christians to the drafting of legislation at all levels. Jesus himself offers a “manual” for this strategy of peacemaking in the Sermon on the Mount. The eight Beatitudes (cf. Mt 5:3-10) provide a portrait of the person we could describe as blessed, good and authentic. Blessed are the meek, Jesus tells us, the merciful and the peacemakers, those who are pure in heart, and those who hunger and thirst for justice.

This is also a programme and a challenge for political and religious leaders, the heads of international institutions, and business and media executives: to apply the Beatitudes in the exercise of their respective responsibilities. It is a challenge to build up society, communities and businesses by acting as peacemakers. It is to show mercy by refusing to discard people, harm the environment, or seek to win at any cost. To do so requires “the willingness to face conflict head on, to resolve it and to make it a link in the chain of a new process”.[20] To act in this way means to choose solidarity as a way of making history and building friendship in society. Active nonviolence is a way of showing that unity is truly more powerful and more fruitful than conflict. Everything in the world is inter-connected.[21] Certainly differences can cause frictions. But let us face them constructively and non-violently, so that “tensions and oppositions can achieve a diversified and life-giving unity,” preserving “what is valid and useful on both sides”.[22]

I pledge the assistance of the Church in every effort to build peace through active and creative nonviolence. On 1 January 2017, the new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development will begin its work. It will help the Church to promote in an ever more effective way “the inestimable goods of justice, peace, and the care of creation” and concern for “migrants, those in need, the sick, the excluded and marginalized, the imprisoned and the unemployed, as well as victims of armed conflict, natural disasters, and all forms of slavery and torture”.[23] Every such response, however modest, helps to build a world free of violence, the first step towards justice and peace.

In conclusion

7. As is traditional, I am signing this Message on 8 December, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary is the Queen of Peace. At the birth of her Son, the angels gave glory to God and wished peace on earth to men and women of good will (cf. Luke 2:14). Let us pray for her guidance.
“All of us want peace. Many people build it day by day through small gestures and acts; many of them are suffering, yet patiently persevere in their efforts to be peacemakers”.[24] In 2017, may we dedicate ourselves prayerfully and actively to banishing violence from our hearts, words and deeds, and to becoming nonviolent people and to building nonviolent communities that care for our common home. “Nothing is impossible if we turn to God in prayer. Everyone can be an artisan of peace”.[25]

From the Vatican, 8 December 2016

Franciscus

Citations

[1] Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 228.
[2] PAUL VI, Message for the First World Day of Peace, 1 January 1968.
[3] “The Legend of the Three Companions”, Fonti Francescane, No. 1469.
[4] BENEDICT XVI, Angelus, 18 February 2007.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.
[7] MOTHER TERESA, Nobel Lecture, 11 December 1979.
[8] Meditation, “The Road of Peace”, Chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, 19 November 2015.
[9] Homily for the Canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, 4 September 2016.
[10] No. 23.
[11] Ibid.
[12] Address to Representatives of Different Religions, 3 November 2016.
[13] Address to the Third World Meeting of Popular Movements, 5 November 2016.
[14] Cf. Address at the Interreligious Meeting with the Sheikh of the Muslims of the Caucasus and Representatives of Different Religious Communities, Baku, 2 October 2016.
[15]Address in Assisi, 20 October 2016.
[16] Cf. Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, 90-130.
[17] Cf. ibid., 133, 194, 234.
[18] Cf. Message for the Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, 7 December 2014.
[19] Encyclical Laudato Si’, 230.
[20] Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 227.
[21] Cf. Encyclical Laudato Si’, 16, 117, 138.
[22] Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 228.
[23] Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio instituting the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, 17 August 2016.
[24] Regina Coeli, Bethlehem, 25 May 2014.
[25]Appeal, Assisi, 20 September 2016.

© Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrss

The Danger

On January 20, the military officer carrying the nuclear codes who follows the President everywhere, will follow Barack Obama to the inaugural platform. When he leaves, the officer will start following President Donald J. Trump. From that moment on, Trump will have the unfettered ability to launch one or one thousand nuclear warheads whenever he pleases. Four minutes after he gives the order, the missiles will fly. No one can stop him, short of a full-scale mutiny. Once launched, the missiles cannot be recalled.

Almost 1,000 nuclear warheads, each many times the size of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, are kept on missiles ready to launch in minutes. This is called high alert, or launch-on-warning, or, more commonly, hair-trigger alert.

It is a relic of the Cold War. Nuclear commanders wanted the ability to launch their land-based missiles before an enemy attack could destroy them. For years, experts have warned that this was a dangerous practice, subject to false alarms, mistakes, misunderstanding and human error. And it is not necessary. The weapons in our alert subs and bombers are not vulnerable to surprise attack. We have more than enough weapons to deter an attack or respond to one.

While running for the presidency in 2008, Obama said:

“Keeping nuclear weapons ready to launch on a moment’s notice is a dangerous relic of the Cold War. Such policies increase the risk of catastrophic accidents or miscalculation. I believe that we must address this dangerous situation — something that President Bush promised to do when he campaigned for president back in 2000, but did not do once in office.”

Obama didn’t do it, either. Many of the very people he appointed to implement his reforms sided with the nuclear bureaucracy to stop him. The State Department posted a condescending explanation about why we need to be able to destroy the world within 4 minutes, assuring us that this was safe and reasonable. Rereading the post now, one can see the how much of the argument rests on supreme confidence in the judgment of the president of the United States.

Few people have that confidence now. Obama has thirty days to fix his mistake. Thirty days to prevent the worst disaster imaginable.

The Solution

Yes, this will be hard. Yes, much of the defense bureaucracy will argue against him. Yes, Obama has said he doesn’t want to “box in” his successor.

Yet, the press reports that in the last few days:

“Obama has used his final weeks in office to press for new rules on coal mining pollution, offshore drilling and the venting of planet-warming methane — all of which are likely to be challenged or repealed by the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress.”

If the president can do this for parts of the environment, he can take this one simple step to safeguard the entire planet.

Scores of leading nuclear scientists wrote to the President asking him to take nuclear missiles off hair-trigger alert. You can now add your voice.

Ploughshares Fund has started a public petition to President Obama. Join us.

Tell the president to end this obsolete policy. President Trump could still launch nuclear weapons in an emergency, but it would take hours or days. This gives time for consultations, consideration, time to check mistakes and blunt the impulses of the moment. More time doesn’t weaken our national security; it strengthens it.

Please sign the petition now. It says:

“Now more than ever, we call on you to ensure calmer heads prevail. Taking this critical step would bring profound security benefits for all Americans by reducing the risk of nuclear disaster.”

Urge the President to lock the nuclear door before he leaves.

https://www.change.org/p/president-obama-keep-trump-s-finger-off-the-button-nucleartrump

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrss

Note: Below is the text of an leaflet that was distributed at the Fleet Week Baltimore Welcome Ceremony, at Baltimore’s inner harbor, on October 12. Jonah House and Pledge of Resistance – Baltimore organized a peace vigil to counter the celebration of war that is fleet week.

Credit: Patrick O'Neil

Photo Credit: Patrick O’Neil

* * *

On October 15, during Fleet Week, Baltimore has the dishonor of being the site where the new stealth destroyer, the USS Zumwalt, will be commissioned. It is a dishonor because the Zumwalt is a boondoggle of the grossest proportions and as such is a massive theft of the U.S. taxpayer and, in particular, the poor. It will also undermine true security in the United States.

zumwalt1

When research and development is taken into consideration, the price tag for the Zumwalt is nearly 6 billion dollars. This is obscene given the needs of the people of the United States, from health care to education to basic infrastructure repair. Originally the Zumwalt was to be the first of 32 new stealth destroyers, but because this new line had ballooned in cost—81 percent above the Navy’s original cost estimate to Congress—the Zumwalt line was reduced to only three ships. At six billion dollars each, this is still three ships too many.

Martin Luther King once said that “a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” If we are not already there, the Zumwalt brings us perilously close to spiritual death. But the Zumwalt is not only an obscenity in spiritual terms. As President Dwight D. Eisenhower put it: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” In moral terms, the Zumwalt is an outrage; in fiscal terms, it is indefensible.

Baltimore is a poor city, plagued by the social ills caused by poverty, such as unemployment, homelessness, drug addiction, the drug trade, and the horrendous violence that comes with it. Six billion dollars would do much to alleviate the poverty of Baltimore. Six billion dollars would buy 50,000 homes. It would pay the yearly energy costs for 1.2 million households. It would buy all the groceries in a year for 1.5 million families. It would pay a year’s worth of health care premiums for 333,000 families. It would pay for the education of 400,000 students in Baltimore’s schools.

It should also be noted that the Zumwalt will also be exorbitantly wasteful in terms of its fuel use. When fully operational, it will take 78 megawatts to power the ship. That’s enough to power 80,000 homes. And, unlike a nuclear-powered ship, the Zumwalt will run on carbon-based fuel. That will lead to a lot of carbon pollution, the leading cause of global warming. The U.S. military is already the biggest single emitter of carbon pollution in the world. Ships like the Zumwalt will make things much worse.

But it isn’t just a matter of paying bills or carbon emissions. The six billion dollar Zumwalt is not only a criminal misappropriation of U.S. taxpayer money and a major polluter, it is also a betrayal of our true security needs. In our world today, more weapons will not make us safer. In fact, the more we spend on weapon systems, and the more we deploy them in conflicts across the world, the more we create enemies who resent us for our military aggression. The United States would do better to use the six billion dollars it takes to build a Zumwalt to provide humanitarian aid for the victims of war.

peacedovesea

The motto of the Zumwalt is “Peace through power.” It is a truism that power corrupts. The only peace that power offers is a corrupt peace. It is a peace that enforces the status quo, and endorses an ideology that profits the rich and powerful at the expense of the poor and powerless. It is a peace that says “Might makes Right.” The false prophet says peace, peace, when there is no peace. The true prophet knows peace can be never be imposed by military power. The stealth ship called the Zumwalt represents a peace that is a stealthy form of war. It will inevitably be used to wage war on other countries, and is already inflicting suffering on the poor of Baltimore and the rest of the United States.

No more Zumwalts!!

No more war!!

Contact info:

Jonah House
410-233-6238
www.jonahhouse.org
Pledge of Resistance – Baltimore
410-323-1607

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrss

By Tucker Brown

I was recently asked by Loyola’s Pastoral Counseling department to serve as a panel discussant following a talk given by Dr. Ken Pargament, one of the pioneers in the psychology of religion and spirituality. The faculty wanted me to share some reflections on the application of pastoral counseling principles in urban, underserved communities. As I sat with the topic I’d been given to consider, I thought about the way in which people sometimes talk about poverty as a “social problem” and the accompanying assumption that it’s remediable through hard work, education, and programming intended to advance disadvantaged communities. All of which presupposes, it seems to me, that poverty is either a personal failure or a breakdown in the system and that we only need to strengthen the person or tweak the system to overcome it. But what if the system is doing what it’s supposed to? Poverty, then, would really be a form of structural deprivation. A kind of forced starvation (i.e., material, emotional, intellectual, relational) in which so-called underserved communities suffer by necessity while others horde, inherit, and secure — even violently — the world’s resources. This was my line of thinking when I prepared and offered the following remarks:

tumblr_lvrw0h64gD1qc4p4go1_1280.jpg (1000×737)

I live, work, and play at Jonah House: An intentional peacemaking community founded by Phil Berrigan and Liz McAlister and a few others, who, motivated by faith, believed that it was their moral responsibility to resist every incarnation of violence and oppression. Their resistance often meant risking arrest, putting their lives and their bodies on the line for the sake of bearing witness to equality and justice, love and the way of nonviolence.

As I reflect on the question we’ve been asked to consider — particularly in terms of Dr. Pargament’s point about exploring new domains for therapeutic interventions outside traditional clinical contexts — I do so from this rather radical — and by radical I mean root, or original — tradition of peacemaking.

In discussing underserved communities, I think it’s important to begin by examining how we understand economic and social disparities. I would like to suggest that the pervasiveness of poverty, in all its forms, is not a failure of our systems, but a reflection of their proper functioning. In other words, underserved communities are a necessary consequence of social systems intended to advance, preserve and secure access to wealth and well-being based on certain identities like race, in particular whiteness, as well as educational background, social class and capital, profession, geography, gender, sexuality, and language. To name only a few.

make-america-white-again.jpg (1000×658)

As spiritually-integrated helping professionals, I believe we uniquely experience a moral imperative to resist these and other injustices and to accept the risks of doing so. But what are we willing to risk to transform the systems and institutions that perpetuate and preserve structural disparities? And if we believe that, as a principle of pastoral counseling and as Dr. Pargament pointed out, the therapeutic relationship initiates a spiritual dimension, what would it mean for us to hold and participate in this sacred space, especially in our work with underserved communities and clients, outside the clinical context?

My decision to join Jonah House grew out of my personal and professional struggle to address these questions. As I worked with clients from underserved communities, first in Baltimore and then in New Mexico and Oregon, I was confronted with the matter of my moral responsibility to help change the injustices that necesitated their poverty, whether material, emotional, or educational. I came to the conclusion that an individual therapeutic relationship, for me, wasn’t sufficient. That I was called to another way.

drone-photos-inequality-south-africa-johnny-miller-thumb640.jpg (640×450)

At Jonah House we care for a once-neglected 22 acre cemetery, 8 acres of which is a forest patch that offers beautiful greenspace in an otherwise treeless neighborhood withering from violence, addiction, and other symptoms of structural inequality. We run a food pantry, host student groups, and organize social justice actions in the city and elsewhere. In all that we do, though we fall short of the mark, we try to co-create a healing presence and kindle the spiritual dimension that’s the heart, body and wisdom of therapeutic encounter.

I’m not suggesting that the life I lead is an exemplar everyone should follow to realize transformative social change. And I will add that I’m still, and always will be, considerably more privileged than my neighbors in West Baltimore — in spite of my good intentions to live in solidarity with them. The risks I take are choices and theirs are not.

But I do believe, to paraphrase the Jesuit Dean Brackley, that by resisting a world obsessed with wealth, security, upward mobility and prestige, I’m able to see more clearly how that world — its values and the disparities these values necessitate — engenders and preserves underserved communities and the kinds of struggles they suffer with daily.

DSC_30941431465186.jpg (1484×990)

This clarity invites me to live differently. And it’s a constant challenge, particularly to my privilege and the ways I benefit from systems intended to reinforce whiteness, maleness, and formal education. The challenge comes to me as a question, like a koan, whenever I interact with others in my community: What might I risk so that you don’t have to live at risk every moment of your life?

I leave you with that question to consider.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrss

By Joe Byrne

Members of Jonah House were honored to participate in a couple of different commemorations of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima by the United States in 1945. On Saturday, August 6, 2016, which was the 71st anniversary of the bombing and the feast of the Transfiguration, Joe Byrne and Liz McAlister of Jonah House joined 30 peacemakers in a prayer service outside the White House to repent for the U.S. nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and to call for the abolition of nuclear weapons. The peace witness was organized by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, Pax Christi Metro-DC, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Isaiah Project and the Sisters of Mercy – Institute Justice Team.

hiroshima2016wh

The prayer witness, which was held from 8-9am, began with an opening reflection, offered by Art Laffin. This was followed by a period of silence to remember the nuclear victims at 8:15am, the exact time in Japan that the bomb was dropped. Then Mr. Toshiyuki Mimaki, (pictured above speaking in front of the White house) Vice President of Hiroshima Prefectural Hibakusha Organization and a former Executive Board member of Nihon Hidankyo (The Japan Confederation of A & H Bomb Sufferers Organizations) was introduced by Kio Kanda, from the Hiroshima/Nagasaki Peace Committee of the National Capital Area, the group responsible for bringing Mr. Mimaki to the D.C. area.

Speaking through a translator, Mr. Mimaki shared that he was born in Tokyo, experienced the Great Tokyo Air Raid in 1945, and then, at the age of three, was a victim of the first atomic bombing in his father’s hometown of Hiroshima, where he and his family had moved. On August 8, 1945, he walked around the whole neighborhood of Hiroshima Station with his mother and younger brother in search of his father, who worked for the Japan National Railway. He also conveyed the horrific experience his family endured as a result of the bombing. In his concluding remarks, Mr. Mimaki stated that he appreciated President Obama’s recent historic visit to Hiroshima. But he also made a plea to Mr. Obama to visit the Peace Museum in Hiroshima and do the right thing, together with other nuclear powers, and abolish all nuclear weapons.

Following Mr. Mimaki’s powerful remarks, Bob Cooke shared about the groups who were involved in sponsoring the “Apology Petition,” which offers to the people of Hiroshima the apology that President Obama refused to offer when he visited Hiroshima. To date 555 people have signed the petition.

Scott Wright and Jean Stokan then led a moving ritual of repentance atoning for the sin of using nuclear weapons, and distributed red and white roses to all gathered. The red roses symbolized the sacredness of all life as well as the grief and suffering caused by war and the the atomic bomb. The white roses symbolized hope and our commitment to work for a nonviolent world, free of weapons, war and violence. Following a community reading of the Apology Petition, each person presented their rose to Mr. Mimaki, who graciously received them. The Apology Petition was then personally presented to Mr. Mimaki, who expressed his profound appreciation.

After the presentation of the Apology Petition, Paul Magno and Sr. Megan Rice led a Litany of Repentance. Following the Litany, Marie Dennis read a passage for the Gospel of Luke, marking the feast of the Transfiguration, as well as a short prayer. Liz McAlister then read a poem titled “Shadow on the Rock,” that was written by her brother-in-law, Daniel Berrigan, S.J. who died on April 30th. (Daniel Berrigan – Presente!) The witness concluded with everyone singing “I Come and Stand” and “Vine and Fig Tree.”

aug072016a

aug072016b

Then, on Sunday August 7, Joe Byrne, Tucker Brown, Emily Parr, along with little Auggie and Evie (their first peace vigil!) were able to participate in the 32nd annual Hiroshima-Nagasaki Commemoration in Baltimore. This event, organized by the Baltimore Hiroshima-Nagasaki Commemoration Committee, remembers the atomic bombings of Japan on August 6 & 9, 1945, which killed more than 200,000 people. Other organizations involved in the commemoration were the Baltimore Quaker Peace and Justice Committee of Homewood and Stony Run Meetings, Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility, Crabshell Alliance, and Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore.

This event began at 5:30pm, at 33rd and Charles Streets, in front of the main entrance to Johns Hopkins University, with a demonstration against Hopkins’s weapons contracts, including research on killer drones, as well as a vigil to commemorate the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, and the nuclear accident at Fukushima, Japan.

At 6:30pm, the vigilers marched to the Homewood Friends Meetinghouse, at 3107 N. Charles Street. Joe Byrne performed some dulcimer music and accompanied himself singing a few songs, then David Eberhardt, a member of the Baltimore Four protest in 1967, recited some poetry. After that, Mr. Toshiyuki Mimaki, the Hiroshima Hibakusha (Atomic Bomb Survivor) who spoke at the White House on August 6, once again gave testimony of his experience of the bombing of Hiroshima, showing slides to illustrate his experience, and called upon the nations of the world to abolish nuclear weapons so that the crime of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is never repeated. The Hibakusha’s greatest fear is that when they are gone, the memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki will disappear and nuclear weapons will be used again, this time threatening life itself.

The event concluded with dinner at Niwana Restaurant, 3 E. 33rd Street, with Mr. Mimaki.

See also an article on the August 6 vigil at the White House, written by James Martone for the Catholic News Service:

https://www.ncronline.org/news/world/hiroshima-survivor-shares-memories-atomic-blast-peace-activists

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrss

We woke up Saturday morning overcome with grief from the week’s violence in Minnesota, New Orleans and Dallas. After checking in with one another, and trying to find out if any actions had been planned in Baltimore, we chose to host a vigil at McKeldin Square, just off the Inner Harbor. Street zazen: meditating for racial justice and an end to violence.

We sent out word to some friends, got our posters ready and began our public witness around 6:30 pm. Our signs read:

All lives will matter WHEN Black Lives Matter

Awaken from the illusion of separation

Nothing was ever healed with a gun

The choice today is no longer between violence and nonviolence. It’s either nonviolence or nonexistence. (MLK)

Peace between people of all colors and creeds

Tourists, families, groups of kids, O’s fans and attendees leaving Bronycon (billed as the world’s largest My Little Pony convention) passed by and, for the most part, offered their support in one form or another. Some people gave us thumbs up or nodded their heads. Others said, “Thank You.” A few approached us to express their affirmation in more heartfelt words and comment on Evie’s cuteness.

20160709_190008

Not long into our vigil we heard chanting up Pratt Street. A march had formed. Michael, Auggie and I (Tucker) got ready to join. Just as we were about to step into the crowd one of the march’s leaders approached us. He took my sign (i.e., “Awaken from the illusion of separation”), read it, then faced me squarely, with tears in his eyes, and said, “You are my brother and I love you.” He gave me and Auggie a hug, took my free arm — I was holding Auggie with my other — and welcomed us into the march.

I have been re-visiting his act of love, welcome and solidarity since Saturday. It continues to teach me.

It reminds me that people with privilege — like myself, based on the color of my skin, my cultural capital, my material wealth, my education, my family’s resources and ties in community, to name just a few — must risk that privilege in the struggle to realize racial equality. What does risking mean? Perhaps it’s different for each person, given their social locations and present moment circumstances. But in that moment, during that march, it meant putting my body — as well as Auggie’s — in the street.

20160709_195430

The march was peaceful. We walked. We chanted. The collective presence was emotional, fierce, focused and wholeheartedly invitational. The leaders called out to people on the sidewalks to join us. Some did. Some took pictures. Some walked away with their heads down. Others stood to face us and gesture their show of support.

The police remained calm and, at least while I was there, didn’t obstruct our right to assemble and protest peacefully.

Auggie was enthralled with the gathering and singing and rhythmic movement of our bodies marching down Pratt Street.

We will continue to hold a vigil, hopefully each week, to witness for racial justice and nonviolence. We welcome you to join us.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrss

Following the funeral of Dan Berrigan in New York City, Liz and Joe were able to attend the Atlantic Life Community (ALC) spring retreat, at the Mariandale retreat center, in Ossining, New York. (Tucker and Emily had to stay in Baltimore to tend to the newest community member at Jonah House – Genevieve, born May 1. And Ardeth and Carol stayed behind to tend to the three of them, and Genevieve’s big brother, Auggie.)

Located on a bluff on the east side of the Hudson River, Mariandale offers some breath-taking views.

hudsonriver

But more inspiring is the work of the 40+ dedicated peacemakers who attended the retreat. Many of those attending had come from Dan Berrigan’s funeral the day before. Dan was very much on people’s minds. In fact, one of the sessions was devoted to brain-storming public witness scenarios to commemorate Dan.

The retreat had all of the regular features of an ALC retreat. There was sharing about what folks are doing in their communities to bring about a more just and peaceful world. There were workshops on such topics as intentional communities, sustainability, centering prayer, and the Plowshares movement. And there was a talent show. Joe offered some of Dan Berrigan’s poetry and sang some songs in his honor, including Phil Ochs’s anthem “When I’m Gone.”

On Sunday Liz gave an impassioned presentation on Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’. Without shying away from the dire state of the biosphere on the planet, Liz offered reasons to hope that God, through imperfect human beings, might prevent the destruction of the planet that God so lovingly created.

alc_lizpres

Liz’s presentation was followed by the traditional ALC retreat liturgy. Those gathered read the scriptures of the day and broke bread together.

Here is one of the altar decorations, done by one of the children who attended the retreat:

alc_kidcard

May God’s grace sustain the community until it meets again, in Camden, NJ, over Labor Day.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrss

On April 30, we received the sad news that Fr. Dan Berrigan, SJ, had died. Dan was a priest, poet, prophet, and protester; he was also a spiritual God-father of Jonah House, the brother and uncle and friend of Jonah House members, and an inspiration to thousands. Dan and Phil Berrigan were the prototypical “radical priests,” which was acknowledged by Time Magazine in 1971.

berrigans_timeLiz was asked to do a eulogy for Dan at his funeral, in New York City. Joe, who once entered a Catholic seminary with the aspiration to be a priest like Dan Berrigan, went up with Liz on Thursday, May 5.

The wake was held in the afternoon and evening of May 5 at St. Francis Xavier Church, a Jesuit church in Manhattan. The St. Francis Xavier school, next door to the church, put out a banner in tribute to Dan. The banner displayed one of Dan’s better-known poems, “Some.”

danb_some

Joe took the picture while walking to the church with members of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker community. Moments later a uniformed member of the school’s ROTC program walked by. Kathy Boylan of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker stopped him to point out the irony (hypocrisy?) of a Jesuit school with a ROTC program putting out a banner in tribute to one of the great Jesuit peacemakers. Kathy encouraged him to quit the ROTC program and convince all the other ROTC members at Xavier to do the same.

The wake offered a platform to many of Dan’s friends to commemorate this great voice and actor for peace. Many pictures of Dan were on display.

danb_wake_posters

Dan’s funeral was the following day. It began with a march from the New York Catholic Worker, where Dan spent time with his friend Dorothy Day and said mass for the Catholic Worker community, to St. Francis Xavier Church. Even though it was pouring rain, it was a raucous, joyful celebration of Dan’s life. The march was led by a rowdy brass band.

danb_funeral_march01

Here’s another shot of the march.

danb_funeral_march02

The celebration continued in the warm, dry, and very packed St. Francis Xavier Church. Steve Kelly SJ, a friend of Jonah House, gave an inspired homily at the funeral mass. He began by jokingly telling the FBI agents in the audience that they can finally close their file on Dan Berrigan. Though this might be premature, because Dan – like St. Therese, the Little Flower – will likely spend his time in heaven doing good (and making merry mischief) on earth.

stevekelly_dansfuneral

A highlight of the funeral mass was Liz’s eulogy of Dan, beginning with Dan’s famous statement concerning the Catonsville action in 1968. As a sign of appreciation for all Liz has done for peace, and in hopes that she will carry on the legacy of the Berrigan family, the audience gave Liz a standing ovation that lasted for a few minutes.

Jerry, Frida and Kate Berrigan – children of Liz and Phil, and nephew/nieces of Dan – also gave touching eulogies, as did their cousin Carla Berrigan Pittarelli.

liz_dansfuneral

 

The funeral mass was followed by a reception at St. Francis Xavier Church. There were many more pictures of Dan, and some of him with his brother Phil. The picture below features just Phil and a quote that is still very much apropos.

philb_poster

Dan Berrigan, along with his brother Phil and all the Berrigan clan, will forever be “presénte” at Jonah House.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrss

From April 20-23, Joe had the opportunity to join the 2016 Peace Walk with the Nipponzan Myohoji. The Nipponzan Myohoji is a Japanese Nichiren Buddhist order dedicated to the work of peace and justice.  It is the practice of the order to chant “Na Mu Myo Ho Ren Ge Kyo” (derived from the Lotus Sutra), and beat on hand drums, while walking for peace, human rights, and nuclear disarmament.

nipponzanmyohoji

The title of the 2016 Peace Walk was “Walk for a New Spring.”

The walk began at the beginning of March from Leverett Massachusetts, the location of the New England Peace Pagoda. Joe joined the March in Baltimore. On April 20, there was a potluck dinner and presentation by the Peace Walkers at the Friends Meeting House on Charles Street, in downtown Baltimore. Liz McAlister attended, with Joe.

friends_baltimore

The next day, the walkers proceeded from the Friends Meeting House and marched through Baltimore, then Catonsville, and ending up in Ellicott City. For part of the walk, the walkers went up North Avenue, passing just a few blocks away from Jonah House.

While walking through Catonsville, the walkers stopped for a few moments in front of the Knights of Columbus building, to commemorate the Catonsville 9 Draft-board raid in 1968. Jonah House co-founder Phil Berrigan participated in this action.

The following day, the walkers marched through Hagerstown, MD, and then went to the nearby Antietam Battlefield, to witness for peace. The battle of Antietam, also known as the battle of Sharpsburg, was the bloodiest engagement during the American Civil War. The walkers left flowers at some monuments and walked up “Bloody Lane,” where the pile of dead was six feet high.

antietam_nm01

The Antietam phase of the Peace Walk ended up at the Dunker Church. During the battle, this white-washed church was used as a point of reference for both armies. This was bitterly ironic in that the building was a place where a Brethren church – a historic “peace” church – met to worship.  After the battle, the church was commandeered as a field hospital. The surgeons and their assistants dropped amputated limbs into piles outside the windows of the church.

dunkerchurch

The following day, the peace walkers went to Xa Loi Temple, in Frederick, MD. This is a Vietnamese “Pure Land” Buddhist temple where one of the Nipponzan Myohoji monks, Tim-Shonin, is building a Peace Pagoda. Here is a picture of a quarry pond on the property. The statues are representations of Kwan Yin (or Quan Te Am, in Vietnamese), who is an incarnation of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, and can be compared to the Catholic Virgin Mary.

xaloi01

There are many statues of Kwan Yin, the Buddha, and other Buddhist figures at the Temple. Joe’s favorite was made of plaster, and was just the head of a unfinished statue of massive proportions.

xaloi02

At Xa Loi, the peace walkers celebrated the Buddha’s birthday, known in Japan as Hanamatsuri, in the main meditation hall at the temple.

hanamatsuri

Below is a shot of Jean Chapman, a friend of the Jonah House community, bathing the baby Buddha in tea. This is a traditional ritual during Hanamatsuri.

hanamatsuri_jeanc

Joe spent the night in the hermitage built by Tim-Shonin. Tim-Shonin’s Ancestor Altar included a familiar face (and I’m not referring to Mr. Rogers!). Phil Berrigan was one of the peacemakers on Tim-Shonin’s altar.

timshonin_altar

After the ritual, Joe caught a ride to DC and from there got the train to Baltimore and was soon back where he began the peace walk with the Nipponzan Myohoji, at home at Jonah House.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrss

« Older entries § Newer entries »

Contact Jonah House

forklift certification online