What defines me as an individual is what finds me in conflict with much of the world around me and with some of the people in my life. As a Catholic and an Adrian Dominican Associate I am called to a life of non-violence, love, peace, and truth. As an artist I oftentimes see the world and all in it differently. Sometimes I see things in such beautiful and unusual ways, and other times I see the horror, the inhumanity, and the injustice of a world full of despair and losing hope. But I am a hopeful person.
This weekend our country will honor its veterans & my son is among them. Ah-ha, the conflict! We definitely do not see eye-to-eye on the military and this country’s obsession with guns, wars, and violence. I love him and respect his opinions, but I don’t think I will ever change his mind or make him see how violence only begets violence and that this “war on terror” will never be won. He no longer goes to church and seems to have rejected everything of the Catholic faith he was raised on. But I am a hopeful person.
I struggle, too, with this notion of “conservative catholicism.” It’s a contradiction in terms. I encounter so many Catholics that describe themselves this way, and with a sense of pride. I think they are missing something very basic about our faith and about Jesus’ message. Jesus was a radical, a hippie, a rebel who questioned the status quo and preached non-violence and love. His teachings and actions lead those “in charge” to conspire to have him killed. People like that are still being killed, locked-up, and silenced for daring to work for a more just and peaceful world. So imagine my surprise & disgust at learning of the US Bishops’ recent vote to hold collections for the Archdiocese of Military Services. Talk about your conflicts of interest! I am supportive of the needs of our vets when they return and the pastoral work that the priests are doing, but I cannot support the war machine that this military has become. As a faith community we cannot, and should not, continue to support military conflicts, and that the US Conference of Bishops is asking us to is simply wrong and immoral. But, I am hopeful.
I am hopeful in people of courage like Fr. Taugher who stand up and say “No!” I am hopeful when children like Malala demonstrate determination with acts of non-violent resistance in the face of terror. I am hopeful when people organize and are not afraid to speak truth to power and point out the flaws in their policies. And, I am hopeful when I plant a seed with my students. I may not be around to see the fruits of my labor, but that shouldn’t discourage me from the effort. I am hopeful in a world full of conflicts.