Children, Family, Immigration Reform, Police, Social Action, Social Justice, Solidarity, The Great Commission, Transforming the World

Some Thoughts on Why I Was Arrested

Some Thoughts on Why I was Arrested at the White House on July 31, 2014
Guest Post By Rev. Brian Carter, Windsor Heights, Iowa

To Friends and Curious Observers:

After days of prayerful discernment, seeking God’s guidance, and considering the example of our Bishop Julius Trimble, and the call for action from a Trinity United Methodist friend Wendy—who had been in prayer with me and others for months at Rep. Latham’s office—I decided I could no longer stand by and do nothing while many immigrants to our dear land have seen their families torn apart by a harmful immigration system and by President Obama who has directed the deportation of 2 million immigrants during his term of office. John Wesley directed his new Christians who were called “Methodists” to first, Do No Harm.  And by standing by while millions were being deported, I was doing harm to millions of families.

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. so wisely proclaimed, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Our immigration system is unjust.  The Prophet Micah wrote in Micah 6:8 “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”    Doing justice, in a kind but clear manner, and offering yourself as a living sacrifice for love’s sake is living the life of discipleship which Jesus Christ our Lord calls us to.

I had never broken the law—except traffic tickets. I had demonstrated, written, and proclaimed for righteousness sake.  But I had never broken the law for justice sake.  But these immigration laws are unjust, and so as a passionate and clear sign of civil disobedience, I broke the law of how we were to stand outside the White House to proclaim that our national immigration laws are unjust.  It is unjust and unloving to tear families apart who come here to work to make a better life for their families.  It is unjust and unloving to seek to turn children away whose parents are desperately seeking to keep them safe by sending them to a country where they will not be killed or sexually abused to avoid being in violent gangs.

And so I stood in front of the White House in the hot summer sun and when told to leave by the police, I stayed. I stood there holding a sign saying “No More Deportations.”  President Obama can defer deporting those who are here seeking refuge—and those who are here seeking work—and those who are here seeking opportunity.  He can defer deportation until new laws are written, and it becomes clear who may stay.  I stood to pray that President Obama would find the courage to do the moral, right thing to do, and to do it now. I stood with 111 others-people of faith—many breaking the law and being arrested for the first time, like me—hoping our act of conscience, our humility, our attempt to be faithful would move his heart to act, by the grace of God.

I was the 108th person arrested, put in a paddy wagon, treated respectfully by the park police—suffering for but a brief 4 hours.  As a symbolic reminder that millions of immigrants are suffering in fear of deportation, separated from family, unsure of their future—for years.  May God raise up God’s people to welcome the stranger, and let the little children come to us where we may protect them and keep them safe.   May God’s people seek justice for all.   Amen.

Reverend Brian Carter is a retired Elder in the United Methodist Church. He is also the face of the Iowa Legislative Advocacy Team, and serves on the Iowa Board of Church and Society. This reflection is shared with his permission.

Children, Immigration Reform, Mission, New People, New Places, Poverty, Prison, Response to Violence, Social Action, Social Justice, Transforming the World, Whole Community

Immigrant Children from Central America — Who are the Parents?

Grace Des Moines Peace

Guest Post from Dr. Jan L. Flora and Rev. Alejandro Alfaro-Santiz

Our chickens are coming home to roost with the large numbers of unaccompanied Central American children making the life-threatening journey from Central America through Mexico and across our southern border.  Perhaps a better metaphor would be to say that we fail to recognize our collective paternity of the children undertaking this dangerous trip.

Some readers may remember the Contra War under Reagan, but the overthrow of President Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala by the Eisenhower Administration is little known here.  The CIA orchestrated the overthrow of Arbenz’ elected Guatemalan government in 1954 and replaced him with Col. Castillo Armas.  Arbenz had sought to peacefully change the extremely unequal land ownership patterns in that country.  Our support of right-wing governments triggered a 36-year insurgency. When indigenous peasants joined the fight a quarter century later, General Rios Montt’s regime (1982-83), according to Amnesty International, massacred 70,000 civilian women, children, and men. Although the U.S. wrung its hands at these grizzly human rights violations, military aid continued to flow to Rios Montt.  The current president Otto Pérez Molina was the general in charge of the army unit in El Quiche responsible for genocide in that area.  Currently, Guatemalan communities opposing mega projects (e.g., mining, hydroelectric dams) are being repressed when they opt instead for local and sustainable development.

U.S. support of the Somoza dictatorships in Nicaragua (1932-1979) and right wing governments in El Salvador and Honduras led to insurgencies in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador, and pervasive human rights abuses in Honduras.  Only Costa Rica, which never had such unequal landholdings and which had a mild-mannered revolution in 1948 which resulted in the elimination of its military and regular democratic alternations in power of competing political parties to the present day. The Sandinista movement in Nicaragua came to power in 1979, prompting our fomenting of a bloody civil war there to forestall another Cuba in our hemisphere, though neither the Soviet Union nor China provided support to the guerrillas in any of the three countries.

Once the U.S. and its rightist Central American allies brought the insurgent groups to the table to negotiate a peace agreement in 1996, our development aid plummeted.  Our narrowly defined interests had prevailed, which somehow absolved our government of any need to build more just societies.  Formal democracy returned and has been unbroken in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala, but the four Central American countries we “aided” in the 1980s are as impoverished as ever.  Absent significant economic development, right-wing regimes in El Salvador and Honduras offered an ideal setting for narco-traffickers to operate.  El Salvador, after a series of right wing governments, has finally elected progressive governments twice in a row, but inequality remains great. The deportation of Salvadoran gang members from Los Angeles has strengthened gang violence in that country.  President Obama, to his credit, ultimately decided not to block the election of a former FMLN guerrilla leader and his party to the Salvadoran Presidency earlier this year.

Honduras, from which the U.S. coordinated its Central American anti-guerrilla operations in the 1980s, had an abysmal human rights record. As a member of a Central American human rights task force of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) in 1986, the first author visited Honduras with two other LASA scholars.  We verified the Honduran government’s human rights shortcomings and corroborated U.S. knowledge of those violations. Missionary friends recently returned and currently in Honduras indicate that that record remains problematic.  In 2006, Manuel Zelaya was elected President. He came to be modestly progressive, raising the minimum wage, aiding small farmers, and offering free public education.  The U.S., in contrast to most Latin American countries, ultimately gave its blessing to a bloodless coup in 2009, which stopped progressive government action.  Add the gang activities and it is not so surprising that child migration from Central America (especially Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador) is on the upswing.  This year, 75% of the unaccompanied children arriving on our southern border are from these three countries; most of the rest are from Mexico.  The Pew Hispanic Center analyzed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) data showing that thegreatest number of unaccompanied children come from San Pedro Sula, Honduras’ second city, where the homicide rate is 38 times that of New York City!

The UN refugee commissioner (UNHCR) recently interviewed a representative sample of 400 Central American and Mexican unaccompanied children ages 12-17 apprehended in the U.S. Forty-eight percent of the youth recounted being personally affected by organized violence from drug cartels, gangs, or state law enforcement personnel.  Twenty-two percent indicated having experienced abuse or violence by their caretakers at home. The UNHCR estimates that some 58% of the unaccompanied youth merit protection from returning home.  The DHS examined the origins of unaccompanied Central American children who came during the first 4 ½ months of 2014.  They concluded that “…many Guatemalan children come from rural areas, indicating they are probably seeking economic opportunities in the US.  Salvadoran and Honduran children… come from extremely violent regions where they probably perceive the risk of travelling along to the US preferable to remaining at home.”  The Center for American Progress shows that lax border enforcement (the mantra of Sen. Grassley and Rep. King is “secure the border first”) is not a factor, since the amount spent on border interdiction has increased along with numbers of unaccompanied minors apprehended.  The numbers of such minors doubled from 2011 to 2013 and likely will double again from 2013 to 2014.  Border Patrol agents doubled between 2002 and 2013.  The $18 billion we spend annually on immigration enforcement dwarfs what we spend on health and development assistance ($198 million in FY2014) in all of Central America.

We provide military aid to Central America ostensibly to fight the drug wars.  A failed U.S. drug policy (failed because it has neither slowed drugs from south of the border nor reduced demand in the U.S.) strengthens the Honduran National Police with a suspect human rights record.  The Los Angeles Times on July 9 reported that an elite unit of the Honduran national police trained by the U.S. Border Patrol Tactical Unit to interdict drugs and arms, is currently assigned to keep Honduran children and families from crossing the border into Guatemala on their way to the U.S.  This immigrant interdiction program, “Operation Rescue Angels,” and has been in effect since VP Biden’s trip to Central America.  This aid is part of the $642 million spent since 2008 on security assistance to all seven Central American countries. $176 million was proposed for FY2014.

How have our public officials responded to child migration?  Not well. President Obama seeks additional funds for Health and Human Services to house unaccompanied minors, but proposes to change the 2008 law that prevents summary deportation of unaccompanied children all countries but Mexico. The Administration is now working on a proposal to grant refugee status to a limited number of Honduran children and youth in Tegucigalpa, but that is not likely to stem the tide of unaccompanied child immigration. The Administration seems to be as embarrassed by the appearance of these refugees as Republicans should be for failing to pass comprehensive immigration reform, the single most important factor in unauthorized migration to this country.  Reps. Latham and King and Sen. Grassley have stood up for “strict” adherence to immigration law, while blocking comprehensive immigration reform. Such reform would diminish problems generated by and for the youthful sojourners who risk life and limb to escape an intolerable social situation in their countries of origin and/or to be reunited with parents they may have not seen for many years. It does appear that – in the short term — the Pharisees speak louder than those who embrace the parable of the Good Samaritan.

Governor Branstad has steadfastly refused to collaborate with other Iowans in helping Iowa’s share of these brave, ragged children to be housed here while it is sorted out which have relatives where in the U.S., which should be eligible for asylum, and which could safely be deported back to their home countries.  Governor Branstad seems determined to take an anti-Obama stance, when he should be taking a pro-Governor Ray stance – welcoming refugees from troubled parts of the world.  Governor Branstad distinguishes the child refugees from Central America and those who came to Iowa from Southeast Asia in the late 1970s, by saying that the latter came legally.  That is a distinction without a difference.  The bill proposed by the Senators from Arizona to allow a modest number of child refugees from Central America, also proposes to immediately turn back all those who would continue to arrive at our borders.  The irony of the anti-immigrant hysteria among certain of our political leaders is that immigrants who have arrived in Iowa since the 1990s, first mainly from Mexico, now increasingly from Central America and other war zones around the world, have enriched our culture, stabilized the population of certain declining rural counties, and expanded Iowa’s youthful population as Iowans of European descent continue to age.  Those of us who will one day qualify for social security should be thankful for the young families – and indeed the unaccompanied children – that have migrated to our country and will pay the taxes that keep us healthy and happy in our retirement.

What to do?  The most humane way of dealing with these unaccompanied children is for the U.S. to “harmonize its immigration law with domestic child welfare and international law by … requiring U.S. officials to consider the best interests of the child as primary in all … decisions regarding immigrant children.”  (Center for Gender & Refugee Studies and Kids in Need of Defense 2014).  The study, A Treacherous Journey, financed by the McArthur Foundation, further recommends:

  • No child should appear in immigration proceedings without legal representation; the Attorney General should appoint counsel skilled in child immigration matters.
  • An independent child advocate should be appointed for all children wanting to stay in the U.S.
  • A new form of immigrant relief should be enacted to prevent children from being deported when returning home opposes their best interests.

Our government over the years has helped create conditions that make these children refugees – by supporting the right-wing dictators who fought savagely (often with weapons paid for by us — U.S. taxpayers) to maintain the privileges of the military and the landowning class over and against another group of children, women, and men who committed the profound error of being born into a system that was rigged against them.  Should we not demonstrate Iowa values once again in welcoming the stranger as we did in the aftermath of the Vietnam War? Come on, Governor Branstad, have a heart.  After all, THEY ARE CHILDREN!

Dr. Flora is Professor Emeritus at Iowa State University.  He worked for the Ford Foundation in Spanish-speaking South America and in Nicaragua from 1978 through 1980.  He published a paper on “Roots of insurgency in Central America” (1987) and a book on the same topic. Rev. Alfaro-Santiz a U.S. resident, is the Immigration Specialist for the Central District of Iowa United Methodist Church and a Pastor of Las Americas United Methodist Faith Community. He is a native of Guatemala. References used in the paper are available from the first author (floraj@iastate.edu).

Jan L. Flora

1902 George Allen Ave.
Ames, IA 50010
floraj@iastate.edu
Cell:  (515) 451-9693
 Alejandro Alfaro-Santiz
Las Americas United Methodist Faith Community 1548 8th St Des Moines, IA 50311
aalfarosantiz@iliff.edu 
515-450-1621 cell 515-288-4056 office

 

Discipleship, Faith, Mission, Police, Psalms, Reconciliation, Response to Violence, Social Action, Social Justice, Suicide, Transforming the World, Whole Community

Drop the Script

ServiceShirtMason City, IA hosted this year’s Pyrotechnics Guild International convention. Our house is about 2 miles from the North Iowa Events Center and this week has been one long percussive symphony of pops, cracks, and sizzles as the various fireworks demonstrations have lit up the night sky.

This has also been one long week of bad news and violence. War, suicide, and another few names on the litany of those who have died via inflamed passions mixed with the trigger of a gun, those bigger deaths, publicized and amplified, seeming to drown out the more intimate personal violence which claimed the life of someone close here to home.

Media responses to these situations have been exactly as one would predict; reinforcing stereotypes, pointing fingers, and insisting that there is some sort of alignment we can choose to cover all situations: as though your geo-political, social, and familial relationships are simply blanks to be filled out on your voter registration card.

As the fireworks shows started to sound more and more like anti-aircraft fire, I wondered when my imagination stopped seeing strobe lights and loud noises as entertainment and started feeling them as the specter of violence which seems to be hanging over the world.

Friends, we are not swimming in safe water. It is pretty poisoned and polluted, and it may even be toxic to the skin. The way we don’t talk with one another, but instead allow facebook, twitter, CNN, Fox News and AM Radio to carry our messages back and forth for us is bad.  They don’t have the capacity to carry complications, and it is to believe in a lie if you believe that these situations and experiences we face are easily conquered, or can be simply realigned into the appropriate categories of Black, Purple, Brown or White.

Our lack of trust in one another is bad. I am not saying that trust will necessarily be rewarded, but mistrust breeds only evil and spawns hells in our neighborhoods.

Its other name is fear, and we are called to cast out all fear. It is bad to build walls around ourselves and create or uphold laws and ordinances which oppress the widows, aliens and strangers living amongst us. Instead, Jesus’ Disciples practice generosity and openness of heart, hearth, body and soul. Even naïve Peter says to us, “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?  But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.'”

While “common sense” may be telling us that we must take up arms against a sea of troubles, over and over again, our Great Book tells us to “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

To be a witness to faith in this time means to drop the script that has been handed to you. You have an opportunity to turn down the part, to improvise yourself out of the bad lines, even to walk off the stage in the middle of the performance and refuse to refund the ticket.

God asks better of us, believes better in us. The Lifegiver has endowed us with such gifts with which to encounter one another and this good creation in which we are blessed to live, I cannot comprehend why we are so happy to go along with the story we are being fed.

Life is not you against me or us against them. Life is all the parts knowing themselves to be irreplaceably precious members of the Whole.

Survival is not being the last living contender standing on this planet. Survival is letting go of your power so that others might live.

Joy is not in finding the originator of the wrong. Let’s face it,that blame goes all the way back to the beginning of time. It is in regaining that which was lost.

We will not become righteous by choosing the right opinion to have. We will not win a war. Ever. We will not be able to vote back the bullet which killed Michael Brown or reform Robin Williams back to life. You and I know that. It is time we started to speak and act like we do.

Abundant Life, Conversations, Discipleship, Domestic Violence, Education, Faith, Gender, Global United Methodist Church, Health, Mission, Sexuality, Social Action, Social Justice, Solidarity, Transforming the World, Under 18, Wellness, Whole Community, Women

The Sacred Worth of Women and Girls

Katey ZehGuest Post from Katey Zeh, Director of Healthy Families, Healthy Planet Initiative of the United Methodist Church:

When I began writing this piece, I was stopped abruptly by the amazingly weird sensation of the right side of my belly leaping upward.  I’m currently thirty weeks pregnant with our first child, a daughter. For years I’ve dedicated my ministry to advocating for women and girls, but now as a soon-to-be mom of a daughter, my passion has deepened in ways I never imagined.

Very early in my pregnancy I was reflecting on the story of Hagar (Genesis 16).  The slave of Sarai and Abram, Hagar has no agency over her own body. When her owners struggle with infertility, she is used as a surrogate, and Hagar becomes pregnant with Abram’s child. Sarai becomes so abusive toward Hagar that she runs away, risking everything in search of sanctuary back at home in Egypt. In the midst of my own pregnancy-related nausea and fatigue, I thought about the enormous amount of inner strength Hagar must have had to venture out alone into the wilderness.

But Hagar is never really alone. Along her journey an angel of God appears to her, calling her by name and assuring her that she and her child will survive. Strangely he also tells her to return to her masters’ house, but he does not do so without first delivering a message of hope and survival.

Hagar is the first person in the Bible to give God a name, “El-Roi” meaning the God who sees. Perhaps for the first time in her life, Hagar knows that her masters do not define her identity.  Ultimately she is not a slave; she is a precious child of God.

In our world today there are so many women and girls like Hagar who are objectified, reduced to meeting the needs of others and at the expense of their physical, sexual, emotional, and spiritual health.  How many of them are waiting for a voice of hope, an assurance that God is with them in the wilderness? How many have dreams of escaping but have no way out? How many simply wish to be seen, to be heard, and to be called by name?

The question that I ask of each of us is: what would the church look like if women and girls were seen as children of God with sacred worth? This question is not meant to be rhetorical or theoretical. It is a call to transformation! Our calling as the body of Chris is to follow the example of the one who reached out with hands of healing and compassion; who saw women as full human beings worthy of his time and attention; who came that all might experience abundant life here and now.

In my work as director of the Healthy Families, Healthy Planet project of the General Board of Church & Society, I work to ensure that women’s sacred worth is honored through the experience of pregnancy and childbirth. Tragically every two minutes somewhere in the world a woman loses her life while bringing new life into the world, Most of these deaths could be prevented with basic medical care and access to safe, voluntary family planning methods.

The Church is called to respond to this needless loss of life by ensuring every woman and girls has the tools and information she needs to experience the life of abundance that Christ promised all. One place to begin is ensuring every girl and boy, every woman and man has information about their bodies, sexuality, and how to care for one another with respect and dignity. I invite you to join Healthy Families, Healthy Planet and the General Board of Church & Society on August 27th for a webinar focused on the intersections of faith, sexuality education, and your congregation. Please visit the registration page to sign up and for more information.

Through the power of Christ’s spirit, all things are possible. We can become places where all are affirmed as children of God with sacred worth. As I prepare to birth a baby girl into this difficult, beautiful world, I could not hope for anything more.

Katey Zeh, M.Div is an advocate, organizer, and writer for global maternal health and family planning. A graduate of Yale Divinity School, she currently serves as the Director of the Healthy Families, Healthy Planet initiative of the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society. Katey has written about maternal health for the Huffington Post, Religion Dispatches, Feminist Studies in Religion, and Mothering Matters. She was named one of “14 Religious Leader to Watch in 2014” by the Center for American Progress. For more information about Healthy Families, Healthy Planet, please visit umchealthyfamilies.org

Central Iowa, Climate, Compassion, East Central Iowa, Economy, Health, Mission, North Central Iowa, Northeast District, Social Action, Social Justice, Solidarity, Transforming the World, Whole Community

Iowa Storm Response

imagesUBHG32S5

With reports of severe weather rolling in every day, I wanted to share this update from Rev. Catie Newman, Disaster Response Coordinator of Iowa. Click these links for a report on the damages in Iowa June 16 and June 18 . For contact information and information on how your faith community can best respond:

Suggested Action Steps for Iowa Response

1. Please pray for everyone affected by the water and flooding! We are expecting more rain and that means more runoff and that means more water everywhere!! Several more towns downstream are at risk if we get much more rain, AND because we are still “underwater” that there is not too much for volunteers to do at this time, we are however getting ready for when we can help.

2. We are collecting Clean-up buckets and clean-up supplies and getting them in place,

3. I anticipate that within the next week to 10 days we will begin needing volunteers to help clean outflooded homes, basements, businesses etc…after that we will have a time where things need to dry out and wait, after that we will need volunteers for longer term and rebuilding work.

4. NOW is the time to start planning when you can come and getting a team together. At this time we will want to have teams led by UMVIM Trained volunteer leaders (and yes!! we can get some trainings in right now!!) please contact Melissa Bracht-Wagner for scheduling(melisa.brachtwagner@yahoo.com)

5. There are UMC congregations close-by that you can contact for housing, please do not plan to stay in the town that you are volunteering in, really no space or useable water is available and we do not want to be a burden on top of the flooding. We would hope that teams will come prepared to be self-sufficient, food, tools, sleeping arrangements. If this interests you, send an email to me (Catie Newman, disaster.response@iaumc.org or johnstruckfarm@wiate.net) with the dates you are looking at and how many people on your team, we will put you in contact with the contact person in the town that needs your help.

6. Right now I need some help moving things around, delivering water and clean-up buckets and supplies and general assistance. I would prefer to have people volunteer with a partner, so that we always have a team. IF you have a vehicle that can pull a trailer (loaded with water, we have the trailer) and have a day to volunteer (in the next 14 days) please let me know 712-899-4067 phone or text, I can offer a church floor for sleeping and a place to shower.

Keep Alert, the weather forecasters are predicting, more and more serious weather systems. This can and will affect all of us.

Be Well

Catie and John Newman
IAUMC Disaster Response Coordinators
disaster.response@iaumc.org
712-899-4067 phone or text

It takes ALL of us to make a difference for EACH of us!

 

Abundant Life, Compassion, Creation, Discipleship, Economy, Faith, Gifts, Mission, New People, New Places, Schools, Social Action, Social Justice, Solidarity, Transforming the World, Wellness, Whole Community

Talk Is Cheap

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” 
― Frederick BuechnerWishful Thinking: A Theological ABC

There are a lot of opinions out there. There are a lot of different ways to use our reason and our intellect to convince ourselves that we are OK, or that we are doing the right thing. There are myriad ways to read Scripture and interpret faith so that our own prejudices, biases, inclinations, and desires can be found comfortable, faithful and otherwise pleasing to our own sensibilities; to the sensibilities of our family, friends and neighbors, and can still conform to the tenets of our “doctrine” and  our “discipline.”

I can’t help but wonder, though, how our world might look if we each spent as much energy actually doing something about those things we argue about as we spend consulting our favorite gurus and posting our favorite memes to facebook.

For instance, in Iowa, there is a shortage of residential treatment facilities. There is evidence of human trafficking in both labor and sexual slavery. School food programs are all struggling, while students whose families are under physical, economic, and psychological distress continue to fall behind in the skills necessary to navigate an increasingly complicated world of credit lending and temporary employment. Youth mentorship programs do not have enough mentors to supply their need. People suffering from ongoing mental illness cannot receive the treatment they require. Air, land and water quality are degraded and deteriorating. Women in Iowa earn only 77% of what men make. Our churches, schools and neighborhoods are built more along the lines of separate and unequal, than along lines of an intentionally cross-cultural integration. Laborers work 16 and 20 hour days, while part-time employees without benefits are fired for refusing to work overtime.

And yet . . . there is a United Methodist Church in practically every community in Iowa. I find it impossible to believe that we, as a church, do not have the resources at our fingertips to actually provide a powerful and faithful response to the evil, injustice and oppression whose forms we meet on a daily basis. What if we decided to measure our faithfulness in lives transformed?  What if we looked to measure our righteousness such that every community in which we live is notably more compassionate than communities in which we do not live? What if we loved our neighbors so deeply and so radically we had no room left in our hearts for judgment?

There is a song by Casting Crowns with these lyrics,

But if we are the body
Why aren’t his arms reaching?
Why aren’t his hands healing?
Why aren’t his words teaching?
And if we are the body
Why aren’t his feet going?
Why is his love not showing them there is a way?”

Maybe we would get some things wrong. Maybe we would break some church rules and raise some eyebrows. Maybe our neighbors would look at us strangely and whisper about us behind our backs. But maybe, just maybe, our world would start to look a little bit more like the place God promises us it can be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agricultural Community, Mission, Remembrance, Social Action, Social Justice, Solidarity, Transforming the World, Women

From the Voice of a Devastated Earth

A friend challenged me to write this week about Mother’s Day. In my search for a liturgy on which to hang some mission and social justice ministries or movements, I came across this Mother’s Day Proclamation from 1870. In this time of escalating violence, of sabre-rattling nations, of famine, kidnapping, war, and slavery-catastrophes borne on the bodies of women and the children of women-I think its call still rings true:

Mother’s Day Proclamation-1870 by Julia Ward Howe

Arise then … women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
“We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies, Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: “Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”
Blood does not wipe our dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace…
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God —
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

If you would answer this call-here are some “congress[es] of women without limit of nationality” which are promoting peace:

Healthy Families Healthy Planet

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America

BringBackOurGirls

Half the Sky

Polaris Project

UN Women for Peace

Farming First

Women and Peace Organizations wiki

Saving the World’s Women-an interview with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf