Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Death of Sargent Shriver, age 95

R. Sargent Shriver, Peace Corps Leader, Dies at 95, by Robert T. Mcfadden. The New York Times. 1/18/2011

Sargent Shriver was of the generation of Catholics educated pre-Vatican II,  who were vigorous promoters of social justice.  Pre-dating the Religious Right, he was a political liberal who was also pro-life.  "Mr. Shriver was never elected to any national office. To political insiders, his calls for public service in the 1960s seemed quixotic at a time when America was caught up in a war in Vietnam, a cold war with the Soviet Union and civil rights struggles and urban riots at home. But when the fogs of war and chaos cleared years later, he was remembered by many as a last vestige of Kennedy-era idealism."

In 1955, in Chicago, he became president of the Catholic Interracial Council, which fought discrimination in housing and education.  In 1961, under JFK, he became the founding head of the Peace Corps.  Under LBJ, he headed the Office of Economic Opportunity, which created Head Start, the Job Corps, Volunteers in Service to America, the Community Action Program and Legal Services for the Poor.  Shriver was actively involved in the The Special Olympics, which was founded by his wife Eunice. In 1967, he founded the National Clearinghouse for Legal Services, now known as the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law.  Sargent Shriver was the epitome of public service.

Luigi Giussani and the Communion and Liberation Movement

The most valuable thing that I am learning from the teaching of Luigi Giussani and my involvement in the Communion and Liberation movement is that I am learning to become human.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Deeper Understanding of What It Means to be Moral

"Morality is less a set of abstract principles or laws than a way of honoring a relationship." - Luigi Giussani."

"I am using the word ‘moral’ or ‘morality’ in its deepest, essential sense which is the position of a person in front of Being, that is, in front of life, in front of existence as origin, consistency, destiny—let’s say destiny, which encompasses everything.  It is not coherence with some rules, because this is moralism; morality is the position in front of Being. To have this sympathy in front of Being doesn’t require any special characteristic or energy of our will, something that makes one become a saint because he has this energy, while I, being a poor wretch, don’t have it. Morality is not this; it is not my capacity to be coherent with certain rules, but rather the position I have in front of the sun, my wife, the mountains, the gaze of Christ. Can anyone among us raise his hand and say that he is lacking something to be able to surrender to this gaze? Whatever the level of difficulty of the circumstance he is in at the moment, does he need some particular energy? He needs simply to surrender."

- Julian Carron. p. 35. Living is the Memory of Me. August 2010. La Thuile, Italy.  Assembly of Responsibles of Communion and Liberation. Trace (magazine).

In terms of understanding the above, one way in which I understand it is to say that to be fully moral is to be completely present with all of my humanity, before reality.  To me, being completely present means without defenses--being completely honest in relation to myself, as well as being completely vulnerable. To me, reality means life, existence, facts, our experiences, and encounters.  The above definition of morality is not based on rules but on respect for relationships.  To feel guilt over an act or a relationship is to be present before the memory of the act or relationship, with our humanity.  To become more moral in this sense, we must work to become more fully and completely human.

I should explain to readers who are either not Christians or fellow travelers of the Communion and Liberation movement that in reference to destiny, our ultimate destiny means union with Christ.  Furthermore, the more we follow Christ and attempt to live the gospel, the more human we become.  The fullness of humanity is to be found in Christ.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

International Development: Anti-poverty Programs that Work on a Large Scale

To Beat Back Poverty, Pay the Poor, by Tina Rosenberg.  The New York Times. January 3, 2011.

Brazil and Mexico have anti-poverty programs that are working on a large scale. Note the emphasis on "the girl effect" and building human capital (education). They found far greater success by giving the money to female heads of households than to male. And they also emphasize the building of human capital by requiring that children remain in school and also requiring that mothers get education in health and nutrition. It doesn't say much for us men, does it? And imagine if they did something equivalent in the U.S.!  The common denominator with what Nomi Network is trying to do is the empowerment of women.