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.
Three Holy Women in
North Central Milwaukee
Last week Brian and I took the Hosanna Catholic Worker truck to pick up a woman, Yolanda, Pat and I had just visited. She and her two children are new to town so she had no way to pick up the beds and kitchen chairs we gave her at our home visit.
When we got to the SVDP thrift store, Brian went wandering around the store while Yolanda and I went back to voucher pick up area. A very nice woman helped us out. There was some confusion about the voucher so the woman helping us called over a young man she said was the manager. He was not quite sure what to do, since he had only been at thrift store for a few months but the problem was easily solved when he realized I was the Vincentian that made the home visit and I had my voucher pad with me. He asked me to rewrite the voucher to clarify the confusion. I did and all was well.
While Yolanda was doing paper work with the store woman I wandered into men’s clothes area. I feel a little guilty about shopping for clothes at the Goodwill store off Hwy 100 but, not liking to shop, have always found much more selection at Goodwill. The men’s section of the store had been moved to a little cove that used to house home ware like cups and glasses. There were only a few racks of men’s clothing and nothing in my size. I feel guilty no longer for shopping at Goodwill. I thought what will happen if they do build the five million dollar thrift store in Greenfield. Where will they get men’s clothing from?
When Yolanda was done I went with her to the front cashier to check out. I noticed a sign on the counter saying who the “Manager of the Day” was. The name was not that of the manager that had helped us out. I saw a more a middle age man with that name on his shirt. I asked him if he was the “manager of the day” and he said yes. I than asked him about the woman who I thought was the store manager. He said she was at the “corporate office” which I took to mean SVDP central office. I than asked him about the man who had been the long time assistant manager. He said this person was still a manger but it was his ‘day off’. By now I realized there were four white Caucasian managers at a St. Vincent de Paul Thrift store that serves mainly Hispanic and African American people.
When we got to the loading dock the same woman who helped us in the voucher section was there to help us load stuff on the truck. I asked her if she was a “manager”. She just smiled back at me and said she was not a manager but could do most of the jobs at the store. She was African-American as was the other workers, except perhaps for a few Hispanics.
This story reflects on the Board of Directors at St. Vincent de Paul. Except for one person, who is President of two conferences in North Central Milwaukee the board is all Caucasians, and all but one, I believe, do not live in the city of Milwaukee. The one African American on the Board is opposed to suburban five million dollar store but cannot even get his motion to ‘discuss’ calling a President’s meeting seconded by his colleagues.
If you see a pattern here of white middle class persons dominating over low income Hispanic and African Americans that is the story of Milwaukee and why it is the most racially segregated city in the USA. This is why 300 persons, many African Americans and many Vincentians, signing a petition to build the thrift store, at low or no cost, in North Central Milwaukee rather than at high cost in suburb of Greenfield, is drowned out by the few white suburban people who want to invest five million dollars of money belonging to the poor into a thrift store in the suburbs that will serve the white middle classes. Of course they say money will trickle down to people in need in North Central money but how many of us still believe in the trickle down theory. So this is my story about four white managers and no men’s clothes that could fit me.
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
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.)
“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
“War is the unfolding of miscalculations.”
— Barbara Tuchman
Jokes and Editorial Cartoons
Restoring the Senses, Gardening and Orthodox Easter