Journal of daily reflections on the progress of my home-based agriculture experiments, mixed with observations about life, peace, justice, faith, family, community and friends.
I have been writing of how the changes in our society, high unemployment of poor, making it more difficult to vote, raising taxes of the poor, taking away public transportation, cutting back on food stamps and health care, building thrift stores for rich rather than poor are making it harder and harder to be poor. It occurred to me that the phrase, ‘harder to be poor’ might be misunderstood. A better one might be that our individualistic society is making it easier to be poor.
Peter Maurin and other Catholic Workers have talked about how we cannot change another person but we can make “it easier to be good” by changes in the environment in which we all live. We Catholics believe that the government, on all levels, exists for the ‘common good’. We believe in the principle of subsidiarity that “holds that social problems should be dealt with at the most immediate (or local) level consistent with their solution”. Thus the government does not exist for individuals, like lowing taxes, but for the community, doing what is best for all and cannot be taken care of by individuals alone. The common good means making it easier for all to be good.
Lots of our social problems, like violence, poverty, poor education stem from the widening disparity between the poor and rich. When a smaller and smaller percentage of people have a greater and greater amount of wealth there will be problems as we see all around us.
In a garden if we put 98% of our resources into 2% of the garden and let the other 98% of garden go to waste and to weed, eventually there will be problems. As with nature, it is with society. By making it easier to be poor we are creating problems for all of society. If the purpose of government is for the ‘common good’ we must seek a government that is lessening not widening the gap between the small percent of rich and the rest of society. By making it easier to be poor we are creating an environment where it is harder to be good.
See the full list of articles in the Diary of a Worm.
First they ignore you
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
“Everyone in the world knows that Jesus and His teachings were nonviolent except Christians.” M. Gandhi
A Biography of Dorthy Day by Jim Forest
Letter from Dorthy Day prime directive of Gospel
In general, in the first flush of Lent, the struggle is undertaken bravely. What if during the long weeks the fervor lessens and the work of accumulating graces was continued with many lapses, but by effort of will. That time when will has to be brought into play is perhaps the most important of all, despite failures and the total lack of a sense of accomplishment, of growth. Fervor comes again with Holy Week, joy comes on the day of resurrection, with all nature singing exultantly God’s praises.
To keep united to God through the suffering Humanity of His son—that is the aim of Lent. — Dorothy Day from her column “Day After Day”, The Catholic Worker, April 1935
People Need to be Distrubed.
“When it is said that we disturb people too much by the words pacifism and anarchism, I can only think that people need to be disturbed, that their consciences need to be aroused, that they do indeed need to look into their work, and study new techniques of love and poverty and suffering for each other. Of course the remedies are drastic, but then too the evil is a terrible one and we are all involved, we are all guilty, and most certainly we are all going to suffer. The fact that we have “the faith,” that we go to the sacraments, is not enough. ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me’ with napalm, nerve gas, our hydrogen bomb, our ‘new look’.” (“Are The Leaders Insane?” By Dorothy Day, The Catholic Worker, April 1954, 1, 6.}
“Paper work, cleaning the house, dealing with the innumerable visitors who come all through the day, answering the phone, keeping patience and acting intelligently, which is to find some meaning in all that happens — these things, too, are the works of peace, and often seem like a very little way.”
— Dorothy Day, On Pilgrimage, December 1965
Where we are all going?
…. “I am sick up to the teeth and beyond the teeth, up to the eyes and beyond the eyes, with all forms of projects and expectations and statements and programs and explanations of anything, especially explanations about where we are all going, because where we are all going is where we went a long time ago, over the falls. We are in a new river and we don’t know it.”
(extract from a letter from Thomas Merton to Daniel Berrigan)
Violence embedded in culture itself
“The real focus of American violence is not in esoteric groups but in the very culture itself, its mass media, its extreme individualism and competitiveness, its inflated myths of virility and toughness, and its overwhelming preoccupation with the power of nuclear, chemical, bacteriological, and psychological overkill. If we live in what is essentially a culture of overkill, how can we be surprised at finding violence in it? Can we get to the root of the trouble? In my opinion, the best way to do it would have been the classic way of religious humanism and non-violence exemplified by Gandhi. That way seems now to have been closed. I do not find the future reassuring,” — Thomas Merton edited with an introduction by Gordon C. Zahn (Boston, MA: McCall’s Publishing Company, 1971), p. 230
If you want to study modern history
If you want to study the social and political history of modern nations, study hell.-- Thomas Merton New Seeds of Contemplation, ch 17
worshiping the false self in place of God
“After all, what is your personal identity? It is what you really are, your real self. None of us is what he thinks he is, or what other people think he is, still less what his passport says he is… And it is fortunate for most of us that we are mistaken. We do not generally know what is good for us. That is because, in St. Bernard’s language, our true personality has been concealed under the ‘disguise’ of a false self, the ego, whom we tend to worship in place of God.” —Thomas Merton, The Waters of Siloe
Harcourt & Brace, 1949, p. 349
silence between words
“For language to have meaning, there must be intervals of silence somewhere, to divide word from word and utterance from utterance. He who retires into silence does not necessarily hate language. Perhaps it is love and respect for language which imposes silence upon him. For the mercy of God is not heard in words unless it is heard, both before and after the words are spoken, in silence,”
—Thomas Merton, “Philosophy of Silence,” in Disputed Questions
(NY: Farrar, Straus & Cudahy, 1960), p. 181
“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.”
Poor in the Military
“Perhaps a more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. And so we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. And so we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would hardly live on the same block in Chicago. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.” Martin Luther King Jr., Beyond Vietnam — A Time to Break Silence
Delivered 4 April 1967, Riverside Church, New York City
Worth Dying for
“If you haven’t found something worth dying for, you aren’t fit to be living.” - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr
Fear Each Other
“We often hate each other because we fear each other; we fear each other because we don’t know each other; we don’t know each other because we can not communicate; we can not communicate because we are separated.”
Priority of Conscience
“And it is my conscience that compels me to say publicly that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is agrave injustice against women, against our Church and against our God who calls both men and women to the priesthood.” Fr. Roy Bourgeois in his letter to Maryknoll why he could not recant his belief and public statements that support the ordination of women.
“Over the pope … there still stands one’s own conscience, which must be obeyed before all else, if necessary, even against the requirement of ecclesiastical authority.” Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI,in his 1968 commentary on the Second Vatican Council’s document, Gaudium et Spes.
Nonviolence or Militarism
Breaking the Silence
Child Soldiers and Military Training at Marquette University
Military Spending Voting Records of Rep. Paul Ryan [R]and Rep.Gwen Moore [D] of Wisconsin from 2005 – 20012.
A group Catholics Against Militarism that their focus in 2013 “is on discouraging donations to the first-ever nationwide collection for the Archdiocese of Military Services in November (in most churches on Nov. 10), and moreover encouraging Catholics to voice their objection to this collection by placing statements of protest in the collection plate on that day.” I was surprised there was a Catholic Military Archdiocese and doubly surprised that the Catholic Bishops conference authorized a special collection for the Military Archdiocese. I had questions about a military chaplaincy until I read another article by Father McCarthy called The Christian Military Cahalaincy. Here is Father McCarthy’s take on this military collection in Catholic Churches.
Then What is a Military Diocese?
A Mafia Chaplaincy?
(No hyperbole intended)
by Emmanuel Charles McCarthy www.centerforchristiannonviolence.org
War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses. I wouldn’t go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers.
There isn’t a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its “finger men” to point out enemies, its “muscle men” to destroy enemies, its “brain men” to plan war preparations, and a “Big Boss” Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.
It may seem odd for me, a military man (with two Medals of Honor) to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.
I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909–1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.
The flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.
-Major-General Smedly Butler, U.S.M.C. (Ret.)
“The thing about following Jesus is that you don’t do the right thing because it works; you do it because it’s the right thing. If it doesn’t work, nothing works because the wrong thing doesn’t work either. I think we have proven that.” Rev. John L. McKenzie
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
“In reality, there is a single integral community of the Earth that includes all its component members whether human or other than human. In this community every being has its own role to fulfill, its own dignity, its own inner spontaneity. Every being has its own voice. Every being declares itself to the entire universe. Every being enters into communion with other beings.
In every phase of our imaginative, aesthetic, and emotional lives we are profoundly dependent on this larger context of the surrounding world.” -Father Thomas Berry
“The problem which divides people today is not a political problem; it is a social one. It is a matter of knowing which will get the upper hand: the spirit of selfishness or the spirit of sacrifice; whether society will go for ever-increasing enjoyment, or for everyone devoting themselves to the common good… .”
~ Blessed Frédéric Ozanam, co-founder of St. Vincent De Paul Society
Jokes and Editorial Cartoons
Restoring the Senses, Gardening and Orthodox Easter