Thursday, March 24, 2011

Bishop Romero killed in his church March 24, 1980

Oscar Romero: Bishop of the Poor
El Salvador, Central America
8/15/17 - 3/24/80

In 1980, Archbishop Oscar Romero promised history that life, not death, would have the last word. "I do not believe in death without resurrection," he said. "If they kill me, I will be resurrected in the Salvadoran people.”

Oscar Romero gave his last sermon on March 24, 1980. The homily, however, his fate was sealed on the day before when he took the terrifying step of publicly confronting the military. He begged for international intervention.

In 1980 the civil war claimed the lives of 3,000 per month, with cadavers clogging the streams, and tortured bodies thrown in garbage dumps and on the streets of the capitol weekly. With one exception, all the Salvadoran bishops turned their backs on him, going so far as to send a secret document to Rome reporting him, accusing him of being "politicized" and of seeking popularity.

Unlike them, Romero had refused to ever attend a government function until the repression of the people was stopped. He kept that promise winning him the enmity of the government and military, and an astonishing love of the poor majority.

Romero was predictable, an orthodox, pious bookworm who was known to criticize the progressive liberation theology clergy so aligned with the impoverished farmers seeking land reform. But an event would take place within three weeks of his election that would transform the ascetic and timid Romero.

The new archbishop's first priest, Rutilio Grande, was ambushed and killed along with two parishioners. Grande was a target because he defended the peasant's rights to organize farm cooperatives. He said that the dogs of the big landowners ate better food than the campesino children whose fathers worked their fields.

The night Romero drove out of the capitol to Paisnal to view Grande's body, and the old man and seven year old who were killed with him, marked his change. In a packed country church Romero encountered the silent endurance of peasants who were facing rising terror. Their eyes asked the question only he could answer: Will you stand with us as Rutilio did? Romero's "yes" was in deeds. The peasants had asked for a good shepherd and that night they received one.

Romero's great helplessness was that he could not stop the violence. Within the next year some 200 religious instructors and farmers who had watched him walk into that country church were killed. Over 75,00 Salvadorans would be killed, one million would flee the country, another million were left homeless, constantly on the run from the army—and this in a country of only 5.5 million. All Romero had to offer the people were weekly homilies broadcast throughout the country, his voice assuring them, not that atrocities would cease, but that the church of the poor, themselves, would live on.

By 1980, amidst overarching violence, Romero wrote to President Jimmy Carter pleading with him to cease sending military aid because he wrote, "it is being used to repress my people." The U.S. sent $1.5 million in aid every day for 12 years. His letter went unheeded. Two months later he would be assassinated.

On March 23 Romero walked into the fire. He openly challenged an army of peasants, whose high command feared and hated his reputation. Ending a long homily broadcast throughout the country, his voice rose to breaking, "Brothers, you are from the same people; you kill your fellow peasant . . . No soldier is obliged to obey an order that is contrary to the will of God . . . "
There was thunderous applause; he was inviting the army to mutiny. Then his voice burst, "In the name of God then, in the name of this suffering people I ask you, I beg you, I command you in the name of God: stop the repression."

Romero's murder was a savage warning. Army sharpshooters on rooftops shot down, in front of the cathedral, at those who attended Bishop Romero’s funeral. To this day no investigation has revealed Romero's killers. What endures is Romero's promise.

Days before his murder he told a reporter, "You can tell the people that if they succeed in killing me, that I forgive and bless those who do it. Hopefully, they will realize they are wasting their time. A bishop will die, but the church of God, which is the people, will never perish."

Excerpts taken from an article by Renny Golden, co-author with Scott Wright and Marie Dennis of Oscar Romero: His Life and Teachings.


Until his assassination by right-wing gunmen, Archbishop Oscar Romero (1917-1980) of San Salvador spoke out courageously in defense of human rights and social justice in strife-torn El Salvador.

On this 31st anniversary of his death, the people will march through the streets carrying that promise printed on thousands of banners and will ride on buses or walk to the city of San Salvador to remember the gentle man they called Monseñor.

Bishop Romero had the courage to stand up to protest persecution of the poor,
because it was the right thing to do.

I highly recommend viewing the movie ‘Romero’ (1989) which tells the story
of the life and death of Bishop Oscar Romero.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Women's History Month -12 Nobel Peace Laureates

Women Nobel Peace Laureates

I was planning to choose one of the following women to write about but I couldn't decide which one. Twelve women have received the Nobel Peace Prize, all of whom have dedicated their lives to peace.

Here they are:

1. Baroness Bertha von Suttner -Nobel Peace Prize, 1905

A friend of Alfred Nobel, Baroness Bertha
von Suttner was a leader in the international peace movement in the 1890s, and she received support from Nobel for her Austrian Peace Society. When Nobel died, he bequeathed money for four prizes for scientific achievements, and one for peace. Though many (including, perhaps, the Baroness) expected the peace prize to be awarded to her, three other individuals and one organization were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize before the committee named her in 1905.

2. Jane Addams - Nobel Peace Prize, 1931 (shared with Nicholas Murray Butler)

Jane Addams, best known as the founder of Hull-House, a settlement house in Chicago, was active in peace efforts during World War I with the International Congress of Women. Jane Addams also helped to found the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. She was nominated numerous times, but the prize went each time to others, until 1931. She was, by that time, in ill health, and could not travel to accept the prize.

3. Emily Greene Balch - Nobel Peace Prize, 1946 (shared with John Mott, YMCA)

A friend and co-worker of Jane Addams, Emily
Balch also worked to end World War I and helped to found the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. She was a professor of social economics at Wellesley College for 20 years, but was fired for her World War I peace activities. Though a pacifist, Balch supported the American entry into World War II.

4. & 5. Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan - Nobel Peace Prize, 1976

They founded the Northern Ireland Peace Movement. Betty Williams, a Protestant, and
Mairead Corrigan, a Catholic, came together to work for peace in Northern Ireland, organizing peace demonstrations that brought together Roman Catholics and Protestants, protesting violence by British soldiers, Irish Republican Army (IRA) members (Catholics), and Protestant extremists.

6. Mother Teresa - Nobel Peace Prize, 1979

Born in Skopje, then in Yugoslavia, Mother Teresa founded the
Missionaries of Charity in India and focused on serving the dying. She was skilled at publicizing her order's work and thus financing the expansion of its services. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her "work in bringing help to suffering humanity." She died in 1997 and was beatified in 2003 by Pope John Paul II.

7. Alva Myrdal - Nobel Peace Prize, 1982 (shared with Alfonso GarcíaRobles)

Alva Myrdal, a Swedish economist and advocate of human rights, as well as a United Nations department head (the first woman to hold such a position) and Swedish ambassador to India, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with a fellow disarmament advocate from Mexico, at a time when the disarmament committee at the UN had failed in its efforts.

8. Aung San Suu Kyi - Nobel Peace Prize, 1991

Aung San Suu Kyi, whose mother was ambassador to India and fatherde facto prime minister of Burma (Myanmar), won election but was denied the office by a military government. Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her nonviolent work for human rights and independence in Burma (Myanmar). She has spent most of her time since 1989 under house arrest or imprisoned by the military government for her dissident work.

9. Rigoberta Menchú Tum -Nobel Peace Prize, 1992

Rigoberta Menchú was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work for "ethno-cultural reconciliation based on respect for the rights of indigenous peoples."

10. Jody Williams - Nobel Peace Prize, 1997 (shared with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, ICBL)

Jody Williams was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.

11. Shirin Ebadi - Nobel Peace Prize, 2003

Iranian human rights advocate
Shirin Ebadi was the first person from Iran and the first Muslim woman to win a Nobel Prize.

12. Wangari Maathai - Nobel Peace Prize, 2004

Wangari Maathai founded the Green Belt movement in Kenya in 1977, which has planted more than 10 million trees to prevent soil erosion and provide firewood for cooking fires. Wangari Maathai was the first African woman to be named a Nobel Peace Laureate, honored "for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace."


The Nobel Peace Prize is an award presented to either an individual or an organization in accordance with Alfred Nobel’s living will. Alfred Nobel, was a Swedish inventor and industrialist. He disposed the Nobel Peace Prize in his will to be awarded to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses." The prize can be awarded for current efforts, rather than for having accomplished a goal or resolved an issue.

An amazing group of women to whom we owe so much. All of whom had the courage to stand up for others and speak out, even when it may have been unpopular to do so.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Unhappy 8th Anniversary of the War in Iraq-5,944 killed in action

Today is the 8th Anniversary of the War in Iraq

I published this message on the 6th and 7th anniversary of the War on this blog.

The statistics have increased in number but my message is the same.

When will this madness stop?

5,944 military from the United States have been
killed in action since the start of the war in Iraq in 2003.
Also many allies from U.K., Spain, Poland, Australia and Denmark


U.S. Deaths Since war began (3/19/03): 5,944

Latest Fatality Mar. 18, 2011

U.S. Wounded

360,000 Vets Have Brain Injuries

War Veterans’ Concussions Are Often Overlooked

Wounded- estimated count 100,000

Ongoing 18 Vet Suicides Per Day.

Iraqi Casualties - more than one million


As of today's date EIGHT YEARS have passed without a peaceful resolution to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There has been a strong corps of people who are against the war who have been protesting by sending letters, making phone calls, picketing, marching, displaying Anti-War signs on their lawns, cars, windows, clothing, e-mails, blogs, books, magazines, etc..

The figures quoted above come from official sources. Most of us feel that the numbers of dead and wounded are much higher. The number of Iraqi's killed is over one million with more than 4.2 million Iraqi refugees displaced.

I have done everything that I can think of to protest these wars and today I feel that not much has changed. I do not have the personal resources to stop it and I know that I have the stamina to stay in this for the long haul, however, just for today, I lack the physical, spiritual and emotional strength to do much more than to share with you the number of persons who have been reported dead during this involvement on Iraq and Afghanistan's soil.

Does anyone else give a damn about this?

Tonight I'm taking the evening off - tomorrow I will be demonstrating again.
Won't you join me? Even if you have never taken part in any type of social action in your life - wont you join me and others in standing up for justice?
It takes courage to take a stand and I believe that if enough people would just stand up then the 'powers that be' just might listen.

As in the words of Margaret Meade " Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has."

If you have any comments or would like some suggestions on how to get involved let

peacesojourner presente!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

History of St. Patrick - Patron Saint of Ireland

St Patrick's Flag

Saint Patrick's Day
(Irish: Lá ’le Pádraig or Lá Fhéile Pádraig) is an annual feast day, which celebrates Saint Patrick and is generally celebrated on March 17.

Even though Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and one of the most celebrated religious figures around the world, the factual information about his life and times is quite vague.

He was born in Wales (U.K) about AD 385. His given name was Maewyn. At the age of sixteen, Patrick was kidnapped from his native land of the Roman British Isles by a band of pirates, and sold into slavery in Ireland. He remained in captivity and worked as a shepherd, during which time he began to have religious visions and became closer to God

After six years he escaped from slavery and went to Gaul where he studied in the monastery under St. Germain, bishop of Auxerre for a period of twelve years.
While back in his homeland, Patrick decided to become a priest and he planned return to Ireland after dreaming that the voices of the Irish people were calling him to convert them to Christianity.

Patrick eventually returned to Ireland as a Christian missionary and succeeded in converting the Irish to Christianity. He was quite successful at winning converts and this upset the Celtic Druids. He was arrested several times, but escaped each time. He traveled throughout Ireland, establishing monasteries across the country. He also set up schools and churches, which would aid him in his conversion of the Irish country to Christianity. He was later appointed as second bishop to Ireland.

Although there were already some Christians living in Ireland, St. Patrick was able to bring upon a massive religious shift to Christianity by converting people of power, wealth and influence. St. Patrick is credited with converting the nobles; who set an example, which the people followed.

His mission in Ireland lasted for thirty years. After that time, Patrick retired to County Down. He died on March 17 in AD 461. By the eighth century he had become the patron saint of Ireland and March 17th has been commemorated as St. Patrick's Day ever since.

One traditional icon from that era is the shamrock. This stems from an Irish tale that tells how Patrick used the three-leafed shamrock to explain the Trinity. He used it in his sermons to represent how the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit could all exist as separate elements of the same entity. His followers adopted the custom of wearing a shamrock on his feast day.
Saint Patrick is also credited with bringing written word to Ireland through the promotion of the study of legal texts and the Bible. Previous to Patrick, storytelling and history were reliant on memory and orally passing down stories.

The first year that St. Patrick's Day was celebrated in the United States was in 1737 in Boston, Massachusetts. The first official St. Patrick's Day parade was held in New York City in 1766.

In Great Britain, Queen Mary, the Queen Mother, used to present bowls of shamrock flown over from Ireland to members of the Irish Guards, a regiment in the British Army consisting primarily of soldiers from both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The tiny island of Montserrat, known as "Emerald Island of the Caribbean" due to its foundation by Irish refugees from Saint Kitts and Nevis, is the only place in the world apart from Ireland and the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador in which St Patrick's Day is a public holiday. The holiday commemorates a failed slave uprising that occurred on 17 March 1798.

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Power of Prayer - Pray for Japan Today

This group's sign says "We offer our prayers for the victims of the
Japan earthquake and tsunami."

The monks offer up prayers for the people of Japan

You know that feeling - when the task at hand seems hopeless.

The aftermath of the Tsunami -
A boat that was washed on top of a house

When we hear of disasters that happen in faraway places. and we see the photos of the people who are in pain and suffering, we often feel helpless, that there is nothing we can do.

Yes, we can send donations of money to the International Rescue teams and this
is a source of aid. I am suggesting to you that prayer does make change.

If you find yourself viewing my blog today, I am asking you to take a moment to view these photos again, slowly, and then offer up a prayer for the people in the photos and the people who are affected by this disaster. If each one of you does this then I can feel that I helped in a small way also.

If you do not believe in prayer then believe that others believe and do it anyway.

Feel free to pass this message along to others.

There is power in collective prayer.


(all photos shown here are from AP)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Women's History Month - Helen Caldicott

A personal mission to literally “save the world”
from nuclear destruction.

Earlier this month I mentioned that during Women’s History Month I would be writing about some women that I admire. I would like to introduce you to Dr. Helen Caldicott, a woman who has dedicated her life to working for peace. Her list of achievements is incredible. She is the most articulate and passionate advocate of citizen action to remedy the nuclear and environmental crisis. The Smithsonian Institute has named her as one of the most influential women of the 20th Century.

"During the early portion of the twenty-first century, space power will also evolve into a separate and equal medium of warfare ... The emerging synergy of space superiority with land, sea, and air superiority will lead to Full Spectrum Dominance." - from U.S. Space Command Vision for 2020

When most of us think about the potential of outer space for future generations, we think of world communications, satellite navigation, and scientific exploration. U.S. Space Command, however, thinks about weapons. Believing that conflict in space and wars fought from space are inevitable, former President Bush called on the agency to weaponize outer space and thus provoke an arms race that could cost the United States trillions of dollars and could lead to the demise of the human race.

Helen Caldicott is recognized in every corner of the globe as the most visible advocate for peace in the world. In association with physicians and scientists, Dr. Caldicott and Bill Caldicott played a major role to educate the people of New Zealand and Australia about the vast dangers to health of nuclear production and development. Physician, humanist, impassioned advocate for nuclear disarmament and a true woman of peace is Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Dr. Helen Caldicott.

Nobel Peace Prize nominee
Peace Medal Award – U. N. Association of Australia- shared with her husband Bill Caldicott
Integrity Award (John-Roger Foundation), which she shared with Bishop Desmond Tutu
Peace Award (American Association of University Women)
SANE Peace Award
Gandhi Peace Prize

She is the author of the following books:
- Nuclear Madness
- Missile Envy,
- A Desperate Passion- An Autobiography
- If You Love This Planet
- Nuclear Madness
- The New Nuclear Danger: George Bush’s Military Industrial Complex (2001)
- Nuclear Power is Not the Answer (2006)
- War In Heaven (March 2007).

(In War in Heaven, Caldicott and Eisendrath show that the United States itself is today the principal obstruction to passage of an international treaty banning weapons from outer space.)

She has developed dozens of video tapes and films, written scores of articles which have appeared in nearly every major newspaper and magazine; spoken at major universities throughout the world and has met with heads of state everywhere.

Dr Caldicott, has devoted the last 36 years to an international campaign to educate the public about the medical hazards of the nuclear age and the necessary changes in human behavior to stop environmental destruction.

Born in Melbourne, Australia, August 7, 1938, Dr Caldicott received her medical degree from the University of Adelaide Medical School in 1961. She founded the Cystic Fibrosis Clinic at the Adelaide Children's Hospital and devoted herself to the treatment of children afflicted with cystic fibrosis until 1975 and subsequently was an instructor in pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and on the staff of the Children's Hospital Medical Center, Boston, Mass., until 1980 when she resigned to work full time on the prevention of nuclear war.

In 1971, Dr Caldicott played a major role in Australia's opposition to French atmospheric nuclear testing in the Pacific; in 1975 she worked with the Australian trade unions to educate their members about the medical dangers of the nuclear fuel cycle, with particular reference to uranium mining.

While living in the United States from 1977 to 1986, she co-founded the Physicians for Social Responsibility, an organization of 23,000 doctors committed to educating their colleagues about the dangers of nuclear power, nuclear weapons and nuclear war. The international umbrella group (International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War) won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985. She also founded the Women's Action for Nuclear Disarmament (WAND) in the US in 1980.
Both PSR and WAND have been at the forefront of the nuclear-freeze movement ever since. International PSR received a Nobel Peace Prize in 1985. For more than two decades she has tirelessly and eloquently spoken to groups around the world on behalf of nuclear disarmament.
She moved back to the United States in 1995, lecturing at the New School for Social Research on the Media, Global Politics and the Environment, hosting a weekly radio talk show on WBAI (Pacifica), and becoming the Founding President of the STAR (Standing for Truth About Radiation) Foundation.

Dr Caldicott has received many prizes and awards for her work, most recently the Lannan Foundation's 2003 Prize for Cultural Freedom, 19 honorary doctoral degrees.
She also has been the subject of several films, including Eight Minutes to Midnight, nominated for an Academy Award in 1981, 'If You Love This Planet', which won the Academy Award for best documentary in 1982, and 'Helen’s War: portrait of a dissident', recipient of the Australian Film Institute Awards for Best Direction (Documentary) 2004, and the Sydney Film Festival Dendy Award for Best Documentary in 2004.

Dr Caldicott currently divides her time between Australia and the US where she lectures widely. She is also the Founder and President of the Nuclear Policy Research Institute (NPRI), headquartered in Washington DC. NPRI’s mission is to facilitate a far-reaching, effective, ongoing public education campaign in the mainstream media about the often-underestimated dangers of nuclear weapons and power programs and policies.

I really admire Dr. Caldicott who has dedicated her life's work to global peace and
I feel safer knowing that she currently makes it a full time mission to prevent nuclear war.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Daylight Saving Time Remains a Mystery To Me

Have you ever wondered why we change our clocks twice a year?
This has always been a mystery to me.

I seem to recall that daylight saving time somehow saves money and reduces consumption of energy. For me, it has always been a struggle with my biological makeup. I seem to take longer than most to adjust to the loss/gain of one hour.

Originally Benjamin Franklin's idea, Daylight Saving Time is a little bit different everywhere it is practiced and has been controversial since its introduction. It has two main purposes: to increase evening daytime hours for outdoor leisure activities and to save on energy consumption.
Benjamin Franklin first conceived the idea that would become DLT during a 1784 post as an American delegate in Paris. It was similar to his oft quoted maxim, "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise." Half-jokingly, Franklin suggested that Parisians shift their sleep schedules an hour back in order to save on candles in the evening. He did not suggest changing the clock and it was not until World War I, in 1916, when it was adopted by several countries in Europe that had initially rejected the idea.

Spring forward...Fall back....

It's ingrained in our consciousness almost as much as the A-B-C’s. Yet in those four words is a whole collection of trivia, facts and common sense about Daylight Saving Time.
DLT - for the U.S. and its territories - is NOT observed in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and by most of Arizona (with the exception of the Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona).


-DLT saves Energy – this statement has caused much controversy over the years.While the amounts of electricity saved per household are small...added up they can be very large.
-DLT saves lives and prevents traffic injuries.
-DLT prevents crime.

The surveys are being taken, the question remains, how long will it take for the results to come in?

It is difficult to predict what will happen with Daylight Saving Time in the future. Many countries change the date and they desire to change the time due to special events or conditions. The United States, Canada and some other countries extended DST in 2007. The new start date is the second Sunday in March through to the first Sunday in November.

Daylight Saving Time statistics for 2011:

Countries which do not observe DST at all 131
Countries where at least one location observe DST 74
Countries where all locations observe DST some part of the year 63
Countries where many, but not all locations observe DST 11

To add to the confusion:

We also have the The International Date Line, abbreviated as the IDL, this is an imaginary line which runs roughly along the 180 degree line of longitude, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

International convention accepts the IDL as the location where one day rolls over to the next, with the area east of the IDL one day ahead of the west. The line is necessary to address certain oddities which occur during travel: people going all the way around the world perceive themselves either gaining or losing a day, depending on which direction they traveled in, as happened to Magellan on his first voyage.

I recall, while travelling to India on a plane over the Pacific Ocean, the Pilot announced "We have just lost one day as we travel over the International Date Line."

We went from Tuesday afternoon to Wednesday afternoon in a blink of an eye. Hey, I wanted that day! How will I ever know what wonderful things could have happened on my lost day? Later, when I returned home they 'said' that they returned it to me but I have never quite believed that. Where did it go? What did I do? Now I ask you, would you voluntarily give away a day of your life? Of course not :-)


If you are interested in changing DST, either abolishing it or having it extended year-round contact your state's elected officials or your Congressional representatives. You can also contact the U.S. Department of Transportation in Washington, D.C.

Final observations:

Daylight Saving Time differs in other areas of the world. To further complicate it, India makes their change difference 1-½ hours and Chatham Island New Zealand has a 1-3/4 hours time difference. It is amazing that the countries around the world can keep up with so many variations of what appears to be a vague promise of energy consumption.

Do you think when the world was created that there was ever such a plan regarding 'time' predicted for the future?

I find this website very helpful when I need to know what the time and weather is in almost every corner of the globe.


Now, when I hear the news bulletins reminding us to put our clocks one
hour forward – I don’t ask questions -I just do it!