SoCS: social justice

During the struggle against fracking in New York, one of my roles was writing comments on related articles. I was part of the rapid response team, so I spent a lot of time doing it, so much so that if I was at an in-person event that drew people from around the state, people recognized my name if we were introduced. I had done a lot of research, so I was able to present my point of view on many different aspects of the effects.

What I seldom wrote of was the personal basis of my views, which was Catholic social justice doctrine, which was always in my heart, even as my mind was filled with science and statistics and personal stories from our neighbors in Pennsylvania.

As time has gone on and my public role has lessened, I have more often spoken of the role of social justice in my life. This became easier when Pope Francis published his encyclical Laudato’ Si. While people knew that it would be about climate change, they didn’t realize how much of it would center around human relationships with each other. Francis calls this approach “integral ecology” and it demonstrates one of the basic tenets of social justice doctrine, care for creation, and another, care for other people, especially those most vulnerable. These are viewpoints that many people of good will hold and there are many routes to them; I just want to acknowledge the impact of Catholic social doctrine for me, which combined with other influences to bring me to this point.

(The link above has the entire text of the encyclical with the option to read it in about a dozen languages. It was written prior to the Paris climate change meetings which led to the accord signed by over 190 nations. Francis addressed it to “all people of good will” because climate change affects everyone on earth.)
*****
Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “social.” Join us! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2019/06/14/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-june-15-19/

SoCS badge by Pamela, at https://achronicalofhope.com/

Advertisements

JC’s Confessions #3

On The Late Show, Stephen Colbert does a recurring skit, now a best-selling book, called Midnight Confessions, in which he “confesses” to his audience with the disclaimer that he isn’t sure these things are really sins but that he does “feel bad about them.” While Stephen and his writers are famously funny, I am not, so my JC’s Confessions will be somewhat more serious reflections, but they will be things that I feel bad about. Stephen’s audience always forgives him at the end of the segment; I’m not expecting that – and these aren’t really sins – but comments are always welcome.
~ JC

When Stephen does Midnight Confessions, in his lead-up he often says that he doesn’t get to go to church as often as he would like and he misses one of his favorite things, going to confession. At which point, I usually think, “Said no Catholic ever!” Everyone with whom I have ever spoken about it feels that it is a stressful situation, even with a good confessor (and downright terrifying with a poor one).

For the last several years, our diocese has had a day during which every church is open for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, as confession is more properly called. I confess that I find it very creepy that they advertise this on television and with billboards, as though mercy and forgiveness are commodities.

It also makes it seem as though forgiveness is only available through this sacrament, even though the church recognizes many other routes for this, such as the penitential rite during liturgy, asking for forgiveness from someone whom you have hurt, prayer, making reparations, and receiving the Eucharist. Indeed, individual confession is only required in the case of serious sin, one which fractures the relationship of the person with God.

I admit, not confess, that I haven’t gone to individual confession in years. This is partly due to a priest from my past who was so unstable I was afraid to be alone with him. Even though he is no longer a threat to me, it makes the thought of going to confession even more fraught.

What is even more difficult is figuring out how to confess my own part in social sin. I grieve that the United States is participating in violence and injustice, degrading the environment and the climate, and lacking in compassion and assistance for those most in need. We are called in our Constitution to “promote the general welfare”; my faith tells me to love and serve my neighbors near and far. Even though I try to oppose what is unjust and to help those in need, I still bear guilt for being part of an unjust system. Seeking forgiveness for these social sins feels hollow, because I am no less a part of the social system after confession than I was before it.

Wow! When I said in my standard introduction to this series that my reflections would be “more serious,” I didn’t mean to make it quite this serious.  Still, we are living in very serious times with many very serious problems confronting us daily. I can only hope that my trying to do my part in repairing the damage will join with the efforts of other people of good will to improve our country and our world.

SoCS: floods

Our news here in the US is filled with coverage of the historic floods in the Plains and Midwest. Floodwaters have breached levees and overflowed banks, causing flooding for several miles on either side of multiple rivers. Many roads and bridges have been washed out. Much of the affected land is farmland and many farmers have lost livestock and crops, as well as equipment and buildings.

I live near the Susquehanna River near the NY/PA border. We are lucky this year that we haven’t had much snow, so we will probably be spared the spring snowmelt plus storm flooding. However, we are not immune to floods, having suffered two record floods in recent years. With the changes in weather patterns brought about by our changing climate, we will certainly have another record flood or very severe flood in the future. We just don’t know when.

For many years, we have carried flood insurance on our home. We are not immediately near the Susquehanna, but live near a creek that feeds into it. There is a floodwall behind our house because when the Susquehanna floods, the water back up into the creek. In the 2011 flood, the water came within inches of overtopping the flood wall.

We are lucky that we have never had to collect on our flood insurance. If the worst happens, we may have to either sell out our property or raise our home above flood level.

I’m hoping it won’t come to that, but only time – and storms – will tell.
*****
Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is to write about the subject of the last piece of (physical) mail we received. In my case, it was our flood insurance bill. To find out how to join in the fun, visit Linda’s site here:  https://lindaghill.com/2019/03/22/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-march-23-19/ 

Green New Deal

The Green New Deal is a concept that combines a rapid transition to sustainable energy to help keep global warming as low as possible – the Green part – with social justice action, not only to fund the initiatives but also to guarantee living wage jobs and truly affordable, quality health care – the New Deal part.

At this point, it has not been formalized as legislation, but there are plans to have a Congressional committee to study all the components and put them together into a viable bill, if not for the current iteration of Congress, perhaps the next.

Time is of the essence, as recent scientific reports both from the US and internationally have made clear that the next 10-12 years are critical in keeping climate change impacts from becoming catastrophic. We know that we are already experiencing some disturbing impacts and that there is no currently known way to fully reverse those changes. We also know that the United States has had very high carbon emissions over the last century and a half and, therefore, carries a major obligation to cut emissions quickly and to make major contributions to help our country and the international community to adapt to climate change impacts. The Green New Deal looks to be a powerful aid to doing that.

Yesterday, I was part of a group visiting our local Congressional office to deliver petitions and discuss the Green New Deal. Our representative, Anthony Brindisi, just took office last month, so we wanted to let him know that climate change, good-paying and secure jobs, renewable energy, labor rights, regenerative agriculture, and environmental and economic justice are important to many of his constituents.

The staff member with whom we spoke was very attentive and let us gather and talk in the office. This was a stark contrast to our former representative who did not want us gathering even outside the building where the office is and called the police to remove us, which they didn’t do because we were on public property and not blocking passersby.

We are hopeful that this will be the first of several visits and meetings to engage with Rep. Brindisi and his staff. We think that the Green New Deal concepts will help the people of our district, as well as the rest of the country and the world.

Update:  You can read the Green New Deal Congressional resolution text here.

Paris

Today’s Just Jot It January prompt “Paris” caught my eye.

My mind immediately went to this post, written November 14, 2015 in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack there, horrible because it was so devastating and, in retrospect, because it was not the only attack that Paris has suffered.

I remember writing it from my bed in the corner room looking toward MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts, where I was staying in an apartment as part of the first ever collaboration between Tupelo Press and the Studios at MASS MoCA, bringing poets together for a week of residency at the expansive Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. I had no idea as I wrote that day that our stalwart band of poets would coalesce into the Boiler House Poets and return to MASS MoCA for residency each fall for the next three years with dates planned for 2019, as well.

In that post, I was writing about the attack’s happening so close to the international climate conference that produced the Paris Accord. Hope and unity triumphed over divisiveness and rancor. I am appalled that DT has announced that the United States will leave the accord in November of 2020 and fervently hope that the decision will be overturned by our next president.

As I said in that November 2015 post:

We are all Paris. All bloodied. All in shock. All in mourning. But also united in strength. United in resolve. United in solidarity.

We must be.

The future of humanity and the planet depend on it.

*****
Join us for Just Jot It January! Today’s pingback link is here:  https://lindaghill.com/2019/01/15/jusjojan-2019-daily-prompt-jan-15th/
More information and prompts here: https://lindaghill.com/2018/12/31/what-is-just-jot-it-january-2019-rules/

another step

Our family has taken another step in reducing our carbon footprint. We replaced our 2005 Honda Odyssey with a new Chrysler Pacifica hybrid. Having had a minivan in the family since E was an infant thirty-two years ago, we like their versatility for transporting people and cargo. We wanted to keep that utility but cut back on emissions.

As it turns out, the Pacifica is the only plug-in hybrid minivan on the market. It has a full gasoline-powered engine plus enough battery to travel thirty-ish miles. That means that most days, we can run on battery power but have the flexibility to go on long trips without having to plan on stopping at a rapid charging station as we would have to do with our Chevy Bolt.

As it turns out, in order to get the most advanced safety features, we wound up having to get a lot of other bells and whistles, too.  I admit that I am having a bit of trouble adjusting to nearly everything happening by touch screen. Sometimes, buttons and knobs are easier!

It is nice to not have to go to a gas station very often and I appreciate that we have so drastically reduced our transportation greenhouse gas emissions. For those of us who live in places without much mass transit, transportation is one of the most difficult areas to achieve reductions, so I am grateful to have gone mostly electric, especially as most of our electricity comes from our solar panels.

It’s fun to go green!
Pacifica hybrid

*****
Join us for Just Jot It January. Today’s pingback link is here: https://lindaghill.com/2019/01/07/jusjojan-2019-daily-prompt-jan-7th/
More information and prompts here: https://lindaghill.com/2018/12/31/what-is-just-jot-it-january-2019-rules/

SoCS: sap

I have lived in the Northeast United States for my whole life and soon my thoughts will turn to sap.

Maple trees are plentiful here and are often used for maple syrup production. The sap flows in the spring and is tapped, usually now with lines rather than with spigots and covered buckets as it was done traditionally.

At least, it used to be done in spring when I was a child. What you need for a good flow of sap is days above freezing and nights below freezing. This used to be early spring weather, but now, with climate change and increased volatility of weather, those conditions sometimes happen as early as February.

February is not spring.

Some years, the sap starts to flow in February, but then it gets colder again and stops. If we are lucky, it stops before the trees actually start to bud as the cold weather can then damage the buds and affect the tree for the year.

When I was a child, we used to go to a local sugarhouse during sugaring off and watch as they evaporated the water out of the sap to leave maple syrup. I always liked the lighter, more delicate syrup. The sugarhouse had an attached dining room where you could order great pancakes and waffles, which were served with fresh syrup. Then, my sisters and I would order sugar-on-snow for dessert. They would bring us cake tins full of snow and a pitcher of warm maple syrup. We would drizzle it over the snow and it would instantly congeal into a candy which you could pick up with a fork. You could sometimes even twirl it around the fork like spaghetti. It was delicious, but super sweet, so they would serve it with homemade dill pickles, which were also really good.

It has been many years since I had sugar on snow, but I always keep a supply of real maple syrup at home. I refuse to eat “pancake syrup” which is usually just corn syrup with some maple flavoring thrown in.

In my area now, I usually buy maple syrup from a farmers’ market rather than directly from a sugar house. When I go back to Massachusetts or Vermont, I will sometimes buy syrup there to bring home. Right now, I have a gallon that was made in B’s hometown and about twelve miles from my hometown.

It’s all good.

I do worry, though, about the future of our sugar maples. They are stressed by climate change and the range of the trees is moving north. In the coming decades, we may need to import our maple syrup from Canada. I’m sure it would be as delicious, but probably in short supply, which would be very sad.

I’ll savor my maple syrup all the more now.
*****
Join us for Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday and/or Just Jot It January! This week’s prompt was sap/sep/sip/sop/sup. Today’s pingback link is here: https://lindaghill.com/2019/01/04/the-friday-reminder-for-socs-jusjojan-2019-daily-prompt-jan-5th/
More information and prompts here: https://lindaghill.com/2018/12/31/what-is-just-jot-it-january-2019-rules/