Sister Simone Campbell, SSS—known as “the nun on the bus”—is someone I consider a modern prophet. She is the Executive Director of NETWORK, an organization that lobbies for socially just federal policies. On this “Independence Day” (in the United States), reflect on Sr. Simone’s invitation to co-create our collective freedom.
In the last half of the twentieth century, thankfully, our society began to engage in a serious process of trying to atone for the sin of slavery, and in doing so much emphasis was placed on promoting civil rights. An unintended consequence of this important movement was a heightened focus on individuals and individual exercise of the freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution. The civil rights movement came out of community, but the legal expression focused on individuals’ capacity to exercise their freedoms. Some fearful Americans—largely white men who professed a conservative version of Christianity—felt threatened, as if there were not enough rights to go around. They sought to create their own “movement.” This reaction in part fueled the rise of the tea party movement. . . .
But a democracy cannot survive if various groups and individuals only pull away in different directions. Such separation will not guarantee that all are allowed the opportunity for “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” All people must be recognized for their inherent dignity and gifts regardless of the color of their skin, their religious beliefs, or their place of origin. And all these gifts need to be shared in order to build up the whole.
So I have begun to wonder if the new task of the first half of the twenty-first century should be a commitment to civil obligations as a balance to the focus on civil rights.
Civil obligations call each of us to participate out of a concern and commitment for the whole. Civil obligations call us to vote, to inform ourselves about the issues of the day, to engage in serious conversation about our nation’s future and learn to listen to various perspectives. To live our civil obligations means that everyone needs to be involved and that there needs to be room for everyone to exercise this involvement. This is the other side of civil rights. We all need our civil rights so that we can all exercise our civil obligations.
The mandate to exercise our civil obligations means that we can’t be bystanders who scoff at the process of politics while taking no responsibility. We all need to be involved. Civil obligations mean that we must hold our elected officials accountable for their actions, and we must advocate for those who are struggling to exercise their obligations. The 100 percent needs the efforts of all of us to create a true community.
It is an unpatriotic lie that we as a nation are based in individualism. The Constitution underscores the fact that we are rooted and raised in a communal society and that we each have a responsibility to build up the whole. The Preamble to the Constitution could not be any clearer: “We the People” are called to “form a more perfect Union.”
-Richard Rohr, Center for Action & Contemplation
Simone Campbell with David Gibson, A Nun on the Bus: How All of Us Can Create Hope, Change, and Community (HarperOne: 2014), 180-182.
Image credit: Frieze of the Prophets (detail), John Singer Sargent, circa 1892, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts.
‘Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, if you know someone who ought to run for something, or if you ought to run for something, the thing you ought to run for is the state legislature in your state. And you better do it right now.’ [Maddow Blog]
There is only one true flight from the world: it is not an escape from conflict, anguish, and suffering, bu the flight from disunity and separation, to unity and peace in the love other (wo)men.”
Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation
What does is mean to be good? This is not something people talk about, or agree on much of these days.
“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics …”
“When I was a child, we saw pictures of military parades in the Soviet Union. I was taught that America doesn’t do that— that we’re proud of the fact that we don’t do it because we don’t wish to be a militarized society. This July 4th however, America’s official celebration will be accompanied by army tanks on the National Mall.
The militarization of July 4th celebrations is repugnant to me. What we celebrate on July 4th is our greatest strength: the Declaration of Independence and the principles that it articulates. That is what we have always done, and that is what we must continue to do.
President Trump will be doing his July 4th event in Washington DC with army tanks on the National Mall; I will be doing mine in Concord, New Hampshire, with a message that I assume will be quite different than his.
Please join me tomorrow at 2pm PT/5pm ET via livestream or live in Concord for a July 4 talk that celebrates our principles, dedicating our hearts to the rights—and the responsibilities—it bequeaths to us. Another generation was given the task of giving birth to the country; the task of our generation is to give it new life.
I look forward to being with you!”
One of two Bradley Fighting Vehicles is parked next to the Lincoln Memorial. Photo: Andrew Harnik.
From Richard Rohr, Center for Action and Contemplation:
‘While our society places great emphasis on the individual, true prophets are almost always concerned with social, institutional, national, or corporate evil and our participation in it.
That’s because the future is always contingent upon our cooperation, choices, and actions. Therefore, if we live in love and treat the poor with justice, the good will happen.’
From Marianne Williamson:
‘Where racism, bigotry, anti-Semitism, homophobia, Islamaphobia and xenophobia have become collectively politicized, we must collectively politicize decency, dignity, mercy, justice, compassion and love. This isn’t philosophy; it’s strategy.’
‘She only spoke for five minutes during the debate, but she managed to advocate for reparations; implicitly compare herself to John F. Kennedy; rail on her opponents for focusing too much on policy plans; bring “chemical policies” into the health-care debate; advocate for a spiritual, love-based strategy to beat President Trump; promise to call the prime minister of New Zealand on her first day in office; and beat the other candidates in debate-night Google search interest (although Kamala D. Harris was the top “trending topic” on all of Google). We may never have seen anyone exactly like Williamson on a national debate stage, but she’s channeling a real, and underserved, constituency in American politics.’ [Washington Post]
‘Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson called climate change the country’s greatest moral challenge in an interview Thursday, spotlighting an issue at the center of the 2020 primary race.
The author and activist told PBS NewsHour anchor and managing editor Judy Woodruff that investing resources to combat climate change now would pay off in the future.
“I’d rather pay with money now than pay with our inability to breath 25 years from now, 50 years from now,” said Williamson, who supports the Green New Deal.
Williamson also said the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding for abortion services, needs to be repealed.
The remarks come as several states have pushed controversial bills limiting abortion services. The debate over abortion is playing out in the 2020 primary race as well. Former Vice President Joe Biden made headlines Thursday by reversing his support for the amendment.
Other highlights from the interview:
On military spending: Williamson criticized U.S. military spending as excessive, touching on an argument she makes in her new book, “A Politics of Love.” “Anybody who thinks that our military budget is based only on military considerations is fooling themselves. It is based at least as much on short-term profit maximization for defense contractors,” she said.
On creating a Department of Peace: Williamson reiterated her call for a new agency with the name the “Department of Peace,” which would deal with domestic peace-building efforts, including in neighborhoods grappling with violence. “We do not spend money and put our resources behind the factors that create peace, like expanding education for children and ameliorating unnecessary human suffering,” Williamson said.
’What I saw outside the fence is as important as what I saw when I looked over it: politicians, human rights groups, religious groups, social justice advocates and others, all bearing witness to a tragic situation and refusing to look away. Gandhi’s concept of soul force means bearing witness to the agony of others as a form of political expression. People from across all religious and spiritual and social justice communities are ready to take a stand for love, and turn it into a political force.’
As I prepare for tonight’s debate, I am thinking about why I got into this race. I’m committed to articulating as strongly as I can my beliefs on which this campaign stands.
I believe we won’t be the country that we can be, until we’re the people that we can be. Too many people are held back from being all they can be, due to bad public policy that does more to limit their dreams than to unleash their spirits.
I believe government can and should be a force for good. It should create and secure opportunities for people to embrace the light, thus making it less probable they will fall into darkness.
America has now fallen into a dark night of the American soul. We’re living at a time when some of the worst human impulses have been turned into a political force. And that will be transcended only by the best human impulses turned into a political force.
That is why I take a stand for love.
I take a stand for economic and social justice. I take a stand for America’s children. I take a stand for safety. I take a stand for our planet. I take a stand for racial reconciliation. And I take a stand for peace.
I will continue to do that, tonight in Miami, tomorrow in Homestead, and the day after that in Iowa. I will continue to campaign on the possibility that America can emerge from this time and be better than we have ever been.
“The power in this image speaks to the current reality in the U.S. and around the world of the plight of immigrants,” said the Rev. Kenny Irby, an independent visual consultant with more than 40 years of experience in journalism and education. “It’s an authentic truth that needs to be part of the narrative.” -NPR/Emily Bogle
‘Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, frustrated because the family from El Salvador was unable to present themselves to U.S. authorities and request asylum, swam across the river on Sunday with his daughter, Valeria.
He set her on the U.S. bank of the river in Brownsville, Texas, and started back for his wife in Matamoros, Mexico. But seeing him move away, the girl threw herself into the waters. Martínez returned and was able to grab Valeria, but the current swept them both away.’
Tragically, necessarily, indelible.
In memoriam. Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and Valeria.
‘Your sweet memory comes on the evening wind
I sleep and dream of holding you in my arms again
The lights of Brownsville, across the river shine
A shout rings out and into the silty red river I dive
Meet me on the Matamoros
Meet me on the Matamoros
Meet me on the Matamoros banks’
by Kelly McBride/Ethics & Trust
The shocking image joins a small portfolio of iconic photographs that magnify the suffering of children caught in geopolitical chaos, including Kevin Carter’s 1993 picture of a starving Sudanese child collapsed outside a feeding center during a widespread famine, Nick Ut’s 1972 picture of a naked girl burned by napalm in Vietnam, and Nilufer Demir’s 2015 picture of 4-year-old Syrian refugee Alan Kurdi washed ashore in Turkey.
These photographs have the power to galvanize the public, much the way that David Jackson’s picture of Emmett Till’s open casket did in 1955.
No matter what your political views on immigration are, the fact that so many children are suffering because of decisions made by the U.S. government is something every American should take note of.
The Story Behind That Photo Of A Father And Daughter On The Banks Of The Rio Grande
‘NPR’s Ari Shapiro speaks with Associated Press reporter Christopher Sherman about the Salvadoran family who lost their lives trying to cross the Rio Grande.’
‘The Golden Rule is so basic, so logical, so easy to agree with, yet so utterly difficult to practice! One way to start is to simply put ourselves in the other’s shoes, to practice empathy and sympathy. Practice is really the operative word, for empathy does require practice. It takes many intentional efforts before we can make it a habit.’
Day by Day with St. Francis, by Peter A. Giersch 
If we just keep hold of each other, you grasping the young one and I the old, we could revolve together like ´*.¸.• .¸. ¸.☆¨ .¸.¸¸.☆’s.
“We have two choices. We can be pessimistic, give up and help ensure that the worst will happen. Or we can be optimistic, grasp the opportunities that surely exist and maybe help make the world a better place.”