- Environmental Justice
- Human Trafficking
- Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
"…All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons and daughters of the earth. Men and women did not weave the web of life; they are merely strands in it. Whatever one does to the web, one does to oneself."
This month as we celebrate Earth Day and raise awareness during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Chief Seattle's words remind us that there is a ripple effect with all of our actions — that when one part of creation or one person is injured, the implications of that injury are felt far beyond our limited view. Wangari Maathai's vision and leadership weave this month's themes together and exemplify the interconnectedness of the strands of the web noted by Chief Seattle. Dr. Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Laureate, led the Pan African Green Belt Movement impacting 40 countries because she been raised to understand the importance of trees as a sustaining force in the environment and she was troubled by the deforestation at the hands of companies seeking inexpensive lumber. The movement rallied women because as the people responsible for collecting firewood, the further women had to travel the more likely they would be to experience sexual violence.
The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the heavens languish together with the earth. The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant.
In the profound and entertaining documentary, Dirt, Wangari Maathai tells this story: "The story of the hummingbird is about this huge forest being consumed by a fire. All of the animals in the forest come out and they are transfixed as they watch the forest burning. And they feel very overwhelmed and very powerless, except for this little hummingbird. It says, "I'm going to do something about the fire." So it flies to the nearest stream, takes a drop of water and puts it on the fire. It goes up and down, up and down, up and down as fast as it can. In the meantime, all of the other animals, much bigger animals, are standing there helpless. And they are saying to the hummingbird, "What do you think you can do? You are too little. Your wings are too little and your beak is too small. It can only bring a small drop of water at a time." But as they continue to discourage the hummingbird, it turns to them and tells them, "I am doing the best that I can." And, that to me is what all of us should do. We should always feel like a hummingbird.
"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something I can do."
As a parent, I have to teach my children to become critical thinkers and to name the fires that they see – no matter how big or small. The seemingly small act of naming begins to demystify the way that a person or institution perpetrates or promotes harmful and potentially oppressive behavior or policy. And, once named we can actively choose to stop being complicit and advocate against the oppression. There were many times when the messages I received from friends, media, teachers and others were counter to how I believed Jesus wanted me to live. My parents made many decisions based on their faith that were ridiculed by friends and strangers alike. I learned from their faithful responses that stopping fires requires commitment and courage; and, I knew from an early age that that following Jesus was not always risk-free.
Having recently celebrated the Resurrection, we have claimed the hope and promise that Jesus brought to our world. Now, it is our time to become full-time disciples committed to extinguishing the fires in our world so that the integrity of our earth and our communities can be healed and become whole.
"Along with all the rest of the world's people, we have inherited ancient instructions for the stewardship and good husbandry of the earth, with clear warnings, now significantly verified, of the disasters that will (and already do) attend our failure. We have responded by continuing our elaborately rationalized destructions."
Wendell Berry, contemporary American writer
- Did You Hear Wind Sing Your Name? (children’s book)
- DIRT: The Movie (movie)
- Story of Stuff, Story of Bottled Water (video clips)
- Ecological Footprint exercise
- Faith and Facts Cards — Environmental issues
- Seeds of Change (children’s book)
- Polaris Project- myths and misconceptions about human trafficking (website)
- Faith and Facts Cards – Human Trafficking
Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
- Men Can Stop Rape poster series and online resources (website)
- Healthy Masculinity Action Project — A two year national movement to develop new male leadership that role models strength without violence (website)
- Power and control diagram — offers some warning signs of an abusive personality (article)
- Faith and Facts Cards — Domestic Violence
- Faith Trust Institute — a national, multifaith, multicultural training and education organization with global reach working to end sexual and domestic violence. Includes articles, statistics, fact sheets and what you can do to help end sexual and domestic violence.