Peace, Refugee Stories

Stone soup for hungry children

by Tony Magliano

Do you remember the childhood story Stone Soup?

It’s an old folk tale about a couple of hungry travelers who creatively entice hesitant villagers to fill their large cooking pot with delicious soup ingredients.

After the initial refusal of the villagers to feed the hungry travelers, the two men fill their pot with stream water, light a fire under it, and then add a large stone to the water.

A curious villager asks what the men are doing. The travelers tell her they are cooking delicious stone soup, and that they would be happy to share it, except that it has not reached its full potential yet. They explain to each inquiring villager that with just a few spices and some vegetables the soup will be ready.

So, desiring to enjoy the delicious stone soup, one by one each villager is happy to give up a vegetable and a smidgen of spice.

After cooking is complete, the stone is removed, and all of the gathered villagers, along with the travelers, enjoy together a wonderful helping of stone soup.

This delightful moral tale teaches that when we share what we have with those who have little or nothing, there is indeed enough good food, and other basic necessities, to go around for everyone. And that the act of sharing has the potential to bring us together as a village and even as a global community.

But in the village of Riimenze, in South Sudan, stone soup is not a charming moral tale, it is a tragic reality!…

Click here to read the entire column.

Nonviolence

The choice is between nonviolence and nonexistence

by Tony Magliano

“To call the world’s nuclear situation dire is to understate the danger and its immediacy,” warned Rachel Bronson, Ph.D., president of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Famous for their symbolic Doomsday Clock, the Bulletin’s highly respected scientists and 15 Nobel Laureate consultants recently moved the clock to two minutes before midnight – warning that a nuclear war catastrophe is very possible!

The only other time in its seven decade history the minute hand has been set this close to midnight – that is, the devastation of the planet, and virtually everything and everyone on it – was in 1953 after the U.S. and the Soviet Union tested thermonuclear weapons for the first time (see: http://bit.ly/2FjsyxC).

And in less than three weeks after the Doomsday Clock was moved so perilously close to nuclear midnight, the Pentagon on Feb. 2 released its 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), providing the world with even more reasons to be alarmed.

Adding to the insane fact that both the United States and the Russian Federation each have hundreds of nuclear weapons aimed at each other programmed with a “launch-on-warning” – hair-trigger-alert – status, the NPR states that the U.S. will continue its policy to be the first to initiate a nuclear attack if it decides that its “vital interests” and those of its “allies and partners” are at risk (see: http://wapo.st/2EJnF0R)…

Click here to read the entire column.

Peace

This year can be better

by Tony Magliano

Last year was a rough one in many ways. President Donald Trump’s and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s exchange of insults and violent threatening language, put the world on edge that nuclear war was, and still is, quite possible.

Deadly armed conflicts plagued regions throughout the globe

Civil wars in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Somalia, and Central African Republic caused hundreds of thousands of deaths – mostly civilians.

In Central America’s Northern Triangle of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, dangerous drug gangs made, and continue to make, that region one of the most dangerous places on earth, causing many to seek refuge in the U.S. where they were met with a 700 mile barrier screaming at them: “You are not welcome!”

Violent government ethnic persecution of the Rohingya people in Myanmar, and extrajudicial murders of suspected drug dealers and drug users by police and vigilantes groups in the Philippines resulted in thousands of deaths.

The Israeli blockade of Gaza continued to make it the world’s largest open-air prison. And the U.S. backed Saudi-led military coalition’s food and medicine blockade of Yemen has caused one of the worst famines in decades.

Last year witnessed the largest number of displaced persons since World War II – over 65 million people were forced to flee from armed conflicts and persecution.

During last year much of the world was on fire

Massive blazes were burning in the United States, Canada, Russia, South America and across Europe.

And in 2017 the persecution of our brothers and sisters in Christ was unspeakable. According to the report, “Persecuted and Forgotten?” published by Aid to the Church in Need, “It is clear that the persecution of Christians is today worse than at any time in history”.

According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation’s report, “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017,” there are 815 million people who are hungry – a recent increase of 38 million people. The U.N. report singles out conflict – increasingly compounded by climate change – as one of the key drivers behind the resurgence of hunger and many forms of malnutrition.

It’s becoming ever more clear that there is a link between poverty, hunger, climate change, armed conflict and forced displacement of peoples.

The artificial mean-spirited sinful barriers built to separate us need to come down

In his famous environmental encyclical letter “Laudato Si’, On Care for Our Common Home,” Pope Francis sees the environmental problem as part of a much larger, more serious problem: Our failure to consistently recognise the truth that everyone and everything is interconnected.

He explains, “When we fail to acknowledge as part of reality the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities – to offer just a few examples – it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself; everything is connected.”

That’s the key principle! To realise and actualise the truth that everyone and everything is connected – connected by our loving Father who is Creator of all. And thus we are really all brothers and sisters.

And that as the mystic St. Francis of Assisi so wonderfully realised, even the sun, moon, earth – and everything on it – are our brothers and sisters.

So, the God-given mission for us in 2018 is to faithfully, creatively, enthusiastically, generously and courageously use our time, talents and treasures to spread this divine truth!

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at tmag@zoominternet.net.

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Peace, Refugee Stories

Reflecting on Pope Francis’ World Day of Peace message

by Tony Magliano

On behalf of the world’s often unwanted refugees and migrants, Pope Francis in his Jan. 1 World Day of Peace message titled “Migrants and Refugees: Men and Women in Search of Peace” pleads: “In a spirit of compassion, let us embrace all those fleeing from war and hunger, or forced by discrimination, persecution, poverty and environmental degradation to leave their homelands.”

But instead of experiencing an embrace of warm welcome, millions of migrants and refugees are confronted with “fences and walls built to keep them far from their goal,” of finally finding a safe and secure place to call home, says Francis.

Several European nations continue to build fences and walls to keep out refugees fleeing armed conflicts and dire poverty in places like Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Nigeria.

And along the U.S.-Mexico border, a nearly 700-mile barrier exists to keep out thousands of scared, poor Central Americans and Mexicans from entering the U.S. And if the Trump administration gets it way, the existing barrier will be extended even further.

For the vast majority of these migrants and refugees, the only “crime” they have committed is seeking a working way out of poverty and a safe haven from drug-induced gang violence — fed largely by America’s drug addiction epidemic and U.S. gun exports — in their home countries.

In his 2018 World Day of Peace message, the Holy Father is critical of the stance taken by many wealthier countries that spread harmful rhetoric claiming refugees and migrants pose risks to national security or are too costly to welcome. He challenges this thinking as demeaning to “the human dignity due to all as sons and daughters of God.” Furthermore, it’s overwhelmingly not true…

Click here to read the entire column.

Peace, Peace Spirituality

Catholic Church’s first World Day of the Poor

by Tony Magliano

When was the last time you shared a meal with a poor person?

For Pope Francis it was just a couple of weeks ago.

On Nov. 19, the Holy Father celebrating the first World Day of the Poor broke bread with not only one poor person, but with some 1,200 poor brothers and sisters (see photos: http://bit.ly/2ArCdTT). And in doing so he gave us a humble example of what being in solidarity with the poor looks like.

In the homily during the Mass (see: http://bit.ly/2zQK1OM) which preceded his meal with the poor, Pope Francis reflected on Jesus’ parable concerning the talents given to three servants in Matthew’s Gospel (see: http://bit.ly/2zQK1OM).

Now while talents in the New Testament refer to large monetary units, the church has traditionally expanded the meaning of talents to refer to all of the generous gifts God has given each of us.

A central meaning of the parable is that each of us is expected by God to seriously use and develop the gifts he has given us in the ways that please him.

So the Holy Father asked “How, in practice can we please God?” He said, “When we want to offer something to the Lord, we can find his tastes in the Gospel.” Citing the last judgment scene, he pointed out that God is most pleased when we tirelessly serve our poor and vulnerable brothers and sisters – “the hungry and the sick, the stranger and the prisoner, the poor and the abandoned, the suffering who receive no help, the needy who are cast aside.”

The pope reminded us of the Master’s strong rebuke of the servant who did not use his talents to bear fruit, but only gave back what he received. The pontiff said that the servant’s evil was that of failing to do good. Here he warns us to attentively avoid the serious sin of omission and indifference towards the poor.

“All too often, we have the idea that we haven’t done anything wrong, and so we rest content, presuming that we are good and just. But in this way we risk acting like the unworthy servant: he did no wrong. … But to do no wrong is not enough.”

What are we doing with the talents God has given us? Are we steadfastly developing our gifts for the greater glory of God by generously and justly using them in tireless service to our needy brothers and sisters near and far?

And are we insisting that our regional and national representatives in government use the financial gifts we have entrusted them with – namely our taxes – to adequately serve each and every poor and vulnerable human being?

Although 300 million children go to bed hungry every night according to the U.N. Children’s Fund (see: http://uni.cf/2pL2UKf), the U.S. Congress allocates only less than 1 percent of the federal budget for poverty-reduction aid. That is shameful.

Persistently lobbying our legislators to provide much more of our tax money towards ending hunger and poverty is one essential way to faithfully use our talents.

And how can we more effectively use the collective talents in our parishes to meet the immediate needs of the poor, and attack the root-causes of poverty?

Pope Francis wisely urged us to “not seek for ourselves more than we need, but rather what is good for others. … What we invest in love remains, the rest vanishes.”

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at tmag@zoominternet.net.

Peace

The dangerous game of North Korean-American brinkmanship

by Tony Magliano

Remember the game of chicken?

It’s a foolishly high-stakes challenge in which two drivers risking death, drive on a collision course towards each other until one of the drivers chooses to swerve away.

Since neither driver wants to be called “chicken,” meaning coward, they both push the decision to swerve away to the last possible moment, each hoping that the other driver will be the one to back down and swerve away.

This is a very dangerous game – a game now being played between North Korea and the United States.

But in this game of chicken the high-stakes of two possible deaths increases to hundreds of thousands of probable deaths. And if it goes nuclear, the stakes rise to millions dead.

During the course of this year North Korea has launched over 20 missiles – some flying over Japan – and according to seismic readings may have successfully tested a hydrogen bomb. And if not already, it is getting close to being able to hit the U.S. with one or more nuclear armed missiles…

Click here to read the entire column.

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at tmag@zoominternet.net.