Captain Jason

The latest news on the recover of Jason after his injury in Iraq by an IED.


Snail Mail:

Cpt. Jason Scott
WRAMC Building 20
Mologne House Hotel #316
6900 Georgia Ave. NW
Washington DC 20307

Phone: 202 577 0092

Saturday, April 08, 2006

"A Rainy Day in Georgia" Ave: Redux on Saturday

Today we awoke to rain and it was to stay all day, a steady coldish rain that kept Jason inside. He and Jodi had talked about a quick trip to FL on Saturday night for him, but it just did not work out. Jodi is doing National Guard duty this weekend and plane trips did not jive. So Jason slept in, watched TV, checked email, talked and text messaging on the phone, and read his latest paperback novel, "Life of the World to Come" by Kage Baker. Jason kept checking the weather out the window, looking wistfully, I imagine thinking of being in sunny warm Florida with Jodi. I asked Jason to come to lunch with me at the mess hall but he declined. I found the second to the last grilled cheese sandwich and returned with that for Jason's lunch at 3 PM.

Jason watched a "No Hold Barred"match on Spike TV and really got excited. Boxing, wrestling, kick-boxing, seemed to have them all. He spent time talking to his friend Dan Sheldon, just returned from Jordan and made plans to meet on Sunday and "hang out together."

Katy's day: Long, may want to skip unless you are interested in the question of moral decision making and the debate on immigration

I had found a flyer about a morning program on Immigration scheduled at a local parish, St Camillus in Silver Spring. The parish is thinking of scheduling its 3rd Spanish liturgy so I thought this program may present a different perspective on the debate taking place across our country. Barbara Lynch was kind enough to come to Mologne to pick me up and return me after the program. His husband Bill is retired Navy and they have lived here for 2 years, moving to be near one of their two sons. Their other son is in Florida, in Orlando. (everyone is in FL, I do believe.)

This program was the perfect homily for the beginning of Christianity's most Sacred week of the Passion which includes reflection on the suffering and death of Jesus. The program consisted of we (30 or so who had gathered) watching a two hour documentary entitled "Endless Exodus" and discussion after. I was deeply touched by the movie but even more deeply touched by the testimony of the 6 teens who spoke after. Each had at least one of their parent's arrive in the USA as an "illegal" All of the teens' parents had never told of their journey into the USA. The teens now were more aware of the experiences of their parents and respect for them was heard in their voices.

The movie making was supported by the priests of Notre Dame and Notre Dame itself. Its writer was an atheist who was very successful in making TV soap operas until his own faith conversion about 10 years ago while visiting Rome. During his travels to document the root causes of poverty and the life of those who are poor throughout the world he stays with members of the Franciscan Order (an Order of the RCC which instructed me as a child and were priests for our parish of St. Michael's in Southfield Mi.)

"Endless Exodus is a film about poor migrants from Mexico and Central America who cross the border and enter the SW of the USA without documentation. It sheds light on the life of the poor in order to help us better understand why they are forced to leave their homes and countries for back-breaking, low-paying jobs in a foreign land whose culture is dramatically different from theirs. This film is a cinematic meditation on our struggle to understand poverty and Christ's directive that we feed the hungry and be one with the poor."

Persons like myself who work for justice begin with a story and so I would like to begin my report to you about this experience with the same story, probably familiar to many.

The works of mercy have been taught to us as Roman Catholic Christians and by Jesus who said, "What you do to the least of my brothers (sic) (and sisters, mine), you do to me."
So... a community found bruised and bleeding bodies floating down the river that flowed through their town. Some of the persons died before the citizens pulled them from the churning waters. But those they could, the citizens saved. They took care of their wounds and tended them until health returned. This continued for many years until one of the town's people asked, "Why do these men and women and children keep being dumped into the river?" Only then their search for justice and peace began as they prepared to travel up the river to find the source of such suffering. So it is with Endless Exodus, this movie takes us "up river" to find the source of economic injustice in Mexico and Central America and economic migration from their countries.

Another true story comes to my mind. A story of St. Bishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, gunned down on Easter Sunday at the altar as he presided at Mass. He said, "When I fed the hungry and clothed the poor they called me a saint. When I asked, "Why are the people of El Salvador hungry, why are they poor?" They called me a "Communist,"" and the orders for his assassination were given.

Some information from the movie:

Let us ask hard questions:
Why are some persons poor?
What are the injustices in the systems?
How do we treat the anawhim?

1. In Mexico the average wage is 35 cents an hour. Earnings are $20 for two weeks labor. When asked "how much would you need to be paid not to immigrate to the US?" the response was, "I need to make 4 x's what I am now," that is...1.40 an hour. Wages in the US paid to undocumented, unskilled workers are 12 x's what they are paid in Mexico or $4.20 and hour.
2. Unemployment throughout Central and South America is about 40%
3. From El Salvador 70,000 try to come to the USA each year.
4. Impact of NAFTA
  • decrease in jobs, jobs created were 99% assembly using parts made in USA with higher paid jobs and Mexicans earn $4.00 a day. Now the plants are closing and moving to China.
  • Because NAFTA opened Mexico to North American farm products a million farm jobs in Mexico were lost.
  • The profits from NAFTA go to the 10% wealthiest members of society.
5. Since 1995, 3000 have died during the perilous journey from SA/CA to escape poverty, most of the over 1000 mile journey is on foot.
6. It is not uncommon for rural towns in Central America to have up to 90% of able bodied men be gone from February to November each year; the growing time in the USA as they work as farm laborers. The women take care of their families as best they can.
7. Why try to make the perilous journey? "I am already dead (from poverty). Going into the desert gives me a chance to live."

Spiritual Reflection by the producer/director/narrator (my notes). His is a Christian spiritual journey: (italics are my emphasis)

The story of the immigrant is the story of the Exodus, from the slavery of poverty
to the Promised Land of earning enough to provide for one's family.

One who says I believe in God but does not work for justice, worships an idol. Working for justice drives us into the desert to always be in transition, to leave behind all that is familiar.

We must discern for ourselves the difference between wants and needs. The movie showed the abundance of food on a cruise ship, extra thrown away. While in the port those who lived and worked to support the tourist industry went hungry, unable to earn enough to provide for their families.

Hospitality is the key to unlocking the Mystery of the Incarnation, we must work for a space for all. And live the virtue of hope for those whose lives are impoverished. We are all migrants, we cannot control the future, we must surrender to God in God. One of those who is poor in the movie states, "Trust God for everything, while we care for each other."

For those in the movie, God is the center of life. "The poor unmask my own poverty and give me courage to face it. In those who are poor we see the face of Christ as Jesus was despised and rejected and was poor, with no privileges, no rights." "Death by poverty blasphemes the God of Life."

God is hidden in suffering. From the Jewish Testament we learn of the jubilee principals. The reign of God includes justice: debts are forgiven, land is given to the poor, slaves are freed. Thus human lives are dignified by justice. Injustice is only defeated by love. Compassion is the response to violence. Suffering is capable of teaching of us what is important if we are open to its lessons. The Hebrew and Christian testaments implore us "to care and to share," especially for the anawhim, those most poor in society. Those who were poor moved Christ to action. In his suffering Jesus did not say, "rescue me" from the cross, instead he said, "Follow me."

We are enticed by power. Power should be used to serve not to dominate or oppress.
Compassion sees all as equal and is the lifeblood of the community. When one person suffers, we all do. Compassion requires us to respond with concrete actions. We must be counterculture; poverty is a scourge and we are required to work to dismantle the structures of injustice. We are called to heal the world. We must detach from the world and see God in all of creation. Accept our limits, accept suffering, struggle for justice is to step into mysticism.

Jesus lived the jubilee life; one showing love, mercy, justice, peace, and healing. Jesus created and offers a community of care. Following in his path we are to work for social and economic justice. We must be against poverty through work for justice and equality. "Poverty is not created by God, we created poverty, before God we are all poor (Mother Theresa)" We must share in the struggles and liberation of the anawhim. We must speak gently and judge no one. We must speak with humility and exclude no one. We are called to help others carry their cross.

The movie discussed the USA vigilante groups now active on the USA/Mexican border, migrants are being shot and killed, water (placed by charities in the desert for those who are thirsty) in tanks is being poisoned. Violence is acting out of the illusion that the "other " is foreign; we are "normal." We all are children of God. We are all sisters and brothers. Such violence is a denial of equality to our sisters and brothers. "Citizens of the US shooting Mexicans is nothing more than domestic violence."

Jesus would give living water to those who asked, to those who were in the desert. We will not find Jesus unless we go into the desert (enter into relationship with those who are poor). " Those who are poor are sacramentals, God is hidden within. We are called to be prophets of the future not our own. We cannot do it all, we do what we can." (Leonardo Boff)

Hope is in short supply in the world today
-take the pain and place before Jesus/God
-live with the questions
-live in faith, hope and love
-know our own poverty and weakness

"Our real life's journey is interior." Merton


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