Immigration, Solidarity, and People Power

The bumper sticker on my car.

The bumper sticker on my car.

I love my community.  Pascale Fusshoeller, one of our own, was arrested on immigration charges and threatened with immediate deportation.  Our community rallied to her support, somehow pulling together a legal team and raising money for her defense.  Supporters created a FaceBook page within hours, which received over 1200 “likes” within days.  People made so many calls and sent so many emails that Senator Barbara Boxer’s office asked us to stop, assuring us that they had gotten our message and were considering Pascale’s case.  Soon afterward, she was back home with her spouse, Susan.  She still faces charges under a complex, unjust, and broken immigration system, but the legal process has been slowed down and will be highly  visible, as the community continues to organize for her support.  This case shows what community organizing can do.

Pascale received such an outpouring of support because she is an integral part of our community.  She and Susan provide us with YubaNet, the online newsletter that provides general news, in-depth local and regional news, fire updated (the North San Juan Volunteer Fire Department  wrote a letter on her behalf), editorial by local folks, and so much more.  Her case has brought to light, in a personal and highly visible way, the cruelty and injustice of our nation’s immigration policies.

Most immigrants without the proper papers lack such public support.  They are separated from their families and “disappeared” into a vast, complex, and profitable system of immigration courts, detention centers (often for-profit, privately run), and deportation.  Many of us are now expanding our awareness and our circle of concern to include all immigrants, including those people in our community and beyond who have been living in the shadows.

I hope we can come together as a community to educate ourselves and speak out against the injustice of the current immigration system, to work for its reform, to resist automatic incarceration and blanket deportations, to support family unity, and to demonstrate solidarity with  the immigrants in our midst.  As Pascale’s case makes clear, organized “people power” can create a shift.  Faith communities, local government institutions, community organizations, and concerned individuals working together can create this community as a sanctuary, where the immigrants among us can feel at home and at peace.  This process has already begun.

Finding Rest in God

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Last night I dreamed about going to some kind of spa.  It must have been a wish-fulfillment dream.  My Unconscious always seems to know just what I need.

I was up early this morning after a full and intense two weeks, grateful to be sitting on my deck watching the sun illuminate the trees.  It’s glorious to bask in the beauty of creation and be open to the grace that is showered upon us in every moment.

I often forget.  Whatever I’m doing becomes primary.  My resting place becomes my to-do list.

So many things are of urgent and immediate importance–economic, social, and environmental crises are all around.  I know I need to do my part, stay aware, and be willing to act.  But if I lose touch with the Holy Spirit who guides me, I won’t be clear about what to contribute or have anything of value to contribute anyway.  So wherever I am, when I remember, I consciously and deliberately pull my attention back to the present moment.  I “practice the presence of God.”

This is much easier to do when I am faithful to my regular practice of contemplative prayer and meditation.  Setting that time aside in the morning makes it more likely that I will remember and return during the activity of the day.  This is especially important when I’m working hardest and life is at its busiest.  Otherwise, in the words of Rabindranath Tagore, “my work becomes an endless toil in a shoreless sea of toil.”

Today I’m grateful to be taking time for refreshment.  Today I remember to find my rest in God.

A Moment’s Indulgence

Rabindranath Tagore (1861 – 1941).

I ask for a moment’s indulgence to sit by thy side. The works
that I have in hand I will finish afterwards.

Away from the sight of thy face my heart knows no rest nor respite,
and my work becomes an endless toil in a shoreless sea of toil.

Today the summer has come at my window with its sighs and murmurs; and
the bees are plying their minstrelsy at the court of the flowering grove.

Now it is time to sit quiet, face to face with thee, and to sing
dedication of life in this silent and overflowing leisure.

127 Years is Enough

MTA freeway

All of the issues that I write about are tied together and exacerbated by growing corporate power.  Huge transnational corporations now dominate nature, culture, political systems, and the rule-making institutions of the global economy.  As an antidote, I support the movement to Amend the Constitution to make it clear that corporations should not have constitutional rights.

Last Friday, May 10, Guari and I took a two-hour shift holding freeway banners over the Brunswick Road overpass in Grass Valley.   The signs said “Corporations are not people” and “Money is not speech.”

Our local Nevada County Move to Amend Coalition  created and displayed the banners throughout the day as part of a coordinated action with other Move to Amend affiliates around the country.   The theme of this action was “127 years is enough.”  Groups in over fifty communities displayed freeway banners to commemorate the Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific Railroad Supreme Court case, which was decided 127 years ago, on May 10, 1886.   In that case, corporations argued that they are protected under the 14th amendment, the amendment that was passed to ensure equal protection of African Americans after slavery was abolished.   Since ruling in favor of corporations in 1886, in case after case, the Supreme Court has expanded the constitutional rights of corporations, leading up to the Citizens United case in 2010.

The goal of the Move to Amend coalition is to raise awareness and build momentum toward passing a constitutional amendment to abolish corporate personhood and declare that money is not speech.

For background and a spiritual perspective on this issue, see my article, “Democracy is for People“.   You can also read a related analysis in “If It Doesn’t Breathe, It Doesn’t Deserve Free Speech,” an excerpt from my book, Shaking the Gates of Hell.

To stay informed, to take action, or to find an affiliate group near you, go to Move to Amend.  You can also check out Earth Justice Ministries “Projects and Campaigns” or Nevada County Move to Amend.

A Moment of Profound Choice

Another World is Possible

We are at the beginning of a new era in the earth’s history. Humanity has reached a crossroads, a moment of profound choice between two incompatible futures. One direction seems almost inevitable: the world’s dominant institutions and prevailing ideologies are driving at an ever-accelerating speed toward a market-based future dominated by corporations. The billboards along this multi-lane freeway advertise the benefits of where we are headed: toward a wonderland of accumulated wealth and general prosperity, technological achievement, economic and cultural integration, and peace through U.S. military domination. Most people are simply going along or being forced along for the ride. But increasing numbers of people around the world are choosing to get off the main road, to walk to the side and off the pavement to find another path, one that leads toward a global future of equity, justice, ecological and cultural diversity, and peace through mutual respect and cooperation. People are defending or changing their lifestyles, working within their communities, and creating alternative institutions. Some are even hiking back up to the main road and blocking it with their bodies, linking arms with others, trying to prevent the tragic consequences of a world given over to greed.

Who will decide which road will be taken? We will. We must. This is our right and our responsibility as human beings. We can refuse to take on the responsibility and allow the institutional Powers to make these decisions by default. Or we can exercise our freedom by refusing to collude, by resisting the Powers that would lead us to destruction, and by embodying life-giving alternatives here and now. This is a profound spiritual choice, since it involves shaking off spiritual domination by the Powers.

At this critical moment in earth’s history each of us is called to exercise our human freedom, to choose whether to go along the broad road that leads to destruction or the narrow path that leads to life. As we open ourselves to the Spirit, we create an opening through which change can happen in the world. As we choose, we are part of humanity’s choosing. We are a part of the earth’s passion for life.

This is an excerpt from the Introduction to Shaking the Gates of Hell:  Faith-led Resistance to Corporate Globalization by Sharon Delgado.  Order the book from your local bookstore, directly from Sharon, or from online distributors.

Easter and Guantanamo

Guantanamo action

“Remember those who are in prison as if you are in prison with them.”  Hebrews 13:3

Every Thursday afternoon, for years now, a group of Women in Black and their male allies gather at the freeway overpass in Nevada City.  Women in Black is a “world-wide network of women committed to peace with justice and actively opposed to injustice, war, militarism and other forms of violence.”

Yesterday we joined these friends with our “Torture is a Moral Issue” banner and our signs to “Close Guantanamo.”  This local action was one of many taking place around the country on the National Day of Action to Close Guantanamo and End Indefinite Detention, sponsored by Witness Against Torture  and the National Religious Campaign Against Torture.  This is the third month of a hunger strike among Guantanamo prisoners.  Some are being force-fed.

It’s the season of Easter, but Christ continues to be crucified as our neighbors in Guantanamo (and elsewhere) suffer the cruelty and injustice of indefinite detention.  Some of the men at Guantanamo have been imprisoned for over ten years, without trial.  Some were arrested as children.  Some were subjected to torture.  They have all been separated from their families, ignored by the media, and all but forgotten.  Human rights campaigners and Interfaith groups have persistently tried to publicize their fate and gain justice for all who are imprisoned there.

As we stood there yesterday with our signs, most people driving by gave us a “thumbs up” or flashed a peace sign.  One young man walking by asked me, “What’s this all about?”  I briefly explained about Guantanamo.  His response:  “But this is Nevada City.”  Then he walked away.

Those of us who live freely here in the United States may not realize how connected we are to the prisoners in Guantanamo.  Their pain and their struggles may seem to have nothing to do with us.  But we are connected to them, and to the people killed by U.S. drone strikes and other victims of our country’s foreign policy.  I am a citizen.  I pay taxes.  I vote.  I remain silent or I speak out.  Our government can only take such actions through the active participation or the silent complicity of the people.

“But this is Nevada City.”  Even if we do feel bad about what our country is doing, we may feel that there’s nothing we can do to bring change.  This sense of fatalism is a spiritual sickness and a fruit of the Domination System, which benefits when a majority of people believe “there’s nothing we can do about it anyway.”  My book, Shaking the Gates of Hell, describes this system, it’s outer and well as inner effects, and how to regain hope that can motivate action for change.

Signs of the Reign of Death are all around.  It might be easy to give up and think that nothing I  do can make a difference in the larger patterns of history.  But my faith tells me otherwise, and my faith compels me to act.  Love calls.

It’s not too late to take action on behalf of these men.  To find out more about the hunger strikers or to make a phone call on their behalf, go to Witness Against Torture.

Whatever your faith, believe the unbelievable.  Love conquers hate.  Life conquers death.

Christ is risen.  There is hope.  Even for the people in Guantanamo.