Nonviolence . . . Human trafficking . . . Women . . . . The elderly . . . Immigrants' rights . . . Housing. . . Children . . . Prisoners' rights . . . Health care . . . World Hunger . . . Globalization, as it affects Latin America . . . Care of the earth . . . Seamless ethic of life

Note: The ideas and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author's and should not be ascribed to the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes or its members.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Three steps for more civil political debate in the Trump era


The negative political ads are upon us!  It’s a good time to think about how we can be a positive influence amid the turmoil, falsehoods, and lack of respect.  I have listed the three steps below, but encourage you to read the article.

1. Spend less time discussing politics on social media.  Have a respectful conversation in person.

2. Make sure you are engaging for the right reasons. Ask fair questions, listen, and then listen some more.

3. Embrace the struggle between what may first seem to be competing truths. F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Preparation for Voting in November

Voting is a privilege and a responsibility. Voting choices have moral implications. Our faith impels us to be voters committed to compassion, education, fact-checking, passion for justice.  Thorough voter preparation is essential for the well-being of Illinois residents.  How do we decide which candidate will earn our vote?  These questions are offered as voter preparation aids.  They are starters in our search for the most inclusive, visioning, justice-oriented candidates for each of the offices for which we have the PRIVILEGE and the RESPONSIBILITY to vote.  These questions are motivators as we take seriously our moral obligation to vote responsibly. 

What are the characteristics of leaders that we need in this time, this area, this county/township, this town, this state, this nation, internationally?

What kind of power is essential for elected leaders to exercise?  In the work history of the candidate, how was power exercised?  Is the work history centered within for-profit corporations, government, not-for-profit agencies, or?

If we watch campaign ads, how do we analyze them?  If people are featured in an ad, who are they?  What is their connection to the candidate for whom the ad is supporting/opposing?  What is the meaning of a physical location if featured in an ad?  What is the purpose of that location: support or opposition of the candidacy?  When we study the connections between the ad and the individual/group that paid for the ad, what do these connections indicate?  In the ad, are judgments about reasons for actions being made?  If judgments are being made, are these assumptions or reality?  Do we fact check the claims made in the ads?

If we are pondering statistics, who did the statistical analysis?  What is the reputation of the group/individual who did the statistical analysis?

What groups/individuals are financing the candidacy?  In what ways?  What lobbying groups are funders?  What is the focus of each of the funding groups/individuals?  What is the relationship of these groups/individuals with the candidate?

What other resources are impacting the election?  Billboards, posters, parties, door-to-door visiting, and ?  How do we analyze the candidate flyers that populate our mailbox?  Who is paying for these resources?

How reliable is the political analysis of social media, TV and radio news?  What lenses do I as an individual bring to my analysis, my decisions?  How do these lenses impact my conclusions?

When I’m going to a candidate forum, do I prepare questions to ask the candidates?  After attending a candidate forum, how do I make a decision about what I’ve heard—dialog with others who attended the forum, silent contemplation, incorporating the insights from research I’ve already completed, and ….?  To which candidate(s) is the energy of the forum leading me?

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

About the Red Tide

Many of you have seen national news stories about dead fish washing ashore on Florida beaches. Jacque Roller, CSA, who lives in Sarasota, sent these links for our information and action. 

The first one is a Fort Wayne, Indiana news station interview with Jacque and the second is a petition that she invites us to sign. The others provide more detailed information about the situation and the cause of the problem, run-off from sugarcane farms.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

JusticeAlert - August 9, 2018

Here are two items to brighten your day:

A moving talk by Valarie Kaur’s talk at TEDWomen ’17. Good news from Ed Johnson, Environment America’s president, Inc.“Good news can be hard to come by, but not when it comes to clean, renewable energy in America. Despite what's going on in Washington, D.C., signs of progress and hope can be found in every state, as shown in our map. Green Tech Media's "No Longer a Novelty, Clean Energy Technologies Boom All Across the US" article highlights the "dramatic growth over the last decade." Meanwhile, a major oil company in Texas is finally going to have to clean up its act and pay for its numerous Clean Air Act violations, according to Reuters' article "Settlement reached in Petrobras' Texas refinery emissions case."

Finally, the EPA just hit the brakes on Scott Pruitt's last-ditch effort to allow for dirtier diesel trucks, according to the Chicago Tribune's "EPA reverses order allowing polluting diesel truck engines" article”.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Forward from Richard Cohen

Video:We've just released a new video called Ten Ways to Fight Hate that gives 10 principles to help you safely stand up to the hate that we're seeing across America. The video features Chelsea Clinton, Bernice A. King, former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, and Susan Bro, whose daughter Heather Heyer was killed by a white supremacist at last year's "Unite the Right" rally
I share with you this communication from Richard Cohen, President of Southern Poverty Law Center, which is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society.  You can receive SLPC updates by visiting this link. Attached is a PDF of their document, Ten Ways to Fight Hate. 

A year ago this Saturday, hundreds of racists marched through the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, leaving death in their wake and a stunned nation seeking answers and leadership.
Tragically, Heather Heyer, a young woman who stood up to racism, was killed by a white supremacist. Two law enforcement officers also died while trying to keep the peace that day.
President Trump equivocated – unable to see the difference between white supremacists and people like Heather who opposed them. In his view, some "very fine people" were among the torch-bearing racists chanting slogans like "Jews will not replace us."

This past weekend, we once again saw the face of hate – this time in Portland, Oregon, where multiple people were injured in street fighting provoked by far-right extremists. Next weekend, white supremacists are planning a rally in our nation's capital.

No one should be surprised. This is Donald Trump's America. These are the forces he has unleashed.

Rather than try to pull the country together after Charlottesville – rather than examine the impact of his own rhetoric and actions – Trump has doubled down on the toxic xenophobia and fearmongering that have fueled his political life. calling African nations "shithole countries." sowing fear by repeatedly conjuring images of violent Latino gangs. closing the doors to asylum seekers and putting their children in cages. saying immigrants "infest" our country. labeling our free press as the "enemy of the people."

It's all part of the ugly, destructive ethno-nationalism Trump is advancing both at home and abroad. White supremacists and anti-democratic extremists everywhere are cheering their friend in the White House. His words nourish and energize them.

We all have a responsibility – not simply to speak out but to act. Apathy is not an option.
Over the past year, we've had the honor of representing Susan Bro, Heather Heyer's mother. I'd like to share her words from Heather's memorial service:
If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention. ... Find what's wrong; don't ignore it; don't look the other way. Make it a point to look at it and say to yourself: "What can I do to make a difference?" That's how you're going to make my child's death worthwhile. I'd rather have my child but, by golly, if I got to give her up, then we're going to make it count.
Thank you for standing with us and Heather's mother against hate and injustice.
Sincerely yours,

Richard Cohen
President, Southern Poverty Law Center

Friday, August 3, 2018

A Win for Socially Responsible Investors!

Exxon Mobil said on Thursday it ended its association with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a nonprofit organization of conservative state legislators and private sector representatives who draft and share model state-level legislation for distribution among state governments in the United States. ALEC is known for its  extreme positions on climate, environment, guns and labor. The Sisters of St. Agnes co-filed a resolution in December 2017, addressing Exxon Mobil’s membership in ALEC and other lobbying activity. 


STOP Trafficking August Newsletter

The latest Stop Trafficking newsletter has articles on orphanages in the business of  human trafficking and one on prison labor that are informative.

Here is the August issue of the Stop Trafficking newsletter. 

An FYI - August 1, was Earth Overshoot Day 2018, the annual date when more of earth’s resources have been depleted than can be renewed in one year. Earth Overshoot Day organizer Global Footprint notes that the day moved past December 31 in the early 1970s and has moved continuously earlier since then.