The Common Good

Work at the tipping point

Sojomail - May 29, 2002


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++++++++++++++++++++++++ 29-May-2002 ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+++++++++++++++++ Work at the tipping point +++++++++++++++++++++++++

BE GENEROUS TODAY - deliver a generous message to your family and
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 Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k
     * Two by Sydney J. Harris

 B a t t e r i e s   N o t   I n c l u d e d
     *Work at the tipping point

 F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
     *Commencement speaker order form

 B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
     *Australian corporations viewed as least corrupt; U.S. lags

 S o j o C i r c l e s
     *SojoCircles get organized!

 F i e l d   R e p o r t
     *Religious scholar tracks genocide

 S o u l   W o r k s
     *The true saint...

B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
     *The abuse of women by Catholic clergy

C u l t u r e   W a t c h
     *Interview with musician Ani DiFranco

 R e l i g i o n   M a t t e r s
     *Christians hit theological rift on Mideast policy

 B o o m e r a n g
     *SojoMail readers hit reply

 W e b s c e n e
     *National hunger awareness day June 5
     *Need help with your crossword puzzles?


Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k
Two by Sydney J. Harris

"When I hear somebody sigh, 'Life is hard,' I am always
tempted to ask, 'Compared to what?'"


"Most people are mirrors, reflecting the moods and
emotions of the times. Some people are windows,
bringing light to bear on the dark corners where troubles
fester. The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors
into windows." 

                      - Sydney J. Harris, author

*Note: J.R.R. Tolkien edited the book "Best of Sydney J. Harris"


B a t t e r i e s   N o t   I n c l u d e d
Work at the tipping point

by David Batstone

A stunning photographic essay by Sebastiao Salgado is 
making its way around the globe. I had the privilege 
of seeing it on my last visit to Sydney, Australia.

The Brazilian photographer has traveled the world
documenting the labor of men and women who, for their 
own survival, work with their hands.

One of the more unforgettable photos in the exhibit
dramatizes the cost of human life in the gold mines of
Serra Pelada in Brazil. A mass of humanity grovels in the
mud of a strip mine, their task to carry loads of dirt out 
of the chasm. Heavy sacks on their back, the workers make
their way up steep trails to the top, their skin and tattered
clothes turning to clay. Uniformed soldiers with rifles
ready are visible amidst the crowd. At the bottom of the
mine, tools are raised, men preparing to strike deep into
the dark earth. The scene rivals the most chilling images
of Dante's hell. Salgado's words hang poignantly next to
his own images:

"The destiny of men and women is to create a new world,
to reveal a new life, to remember that there exists a frontier
for everything, except dreams. In this way, they adapt,
resist, believe, and survive. History endless cycle
of oppressions, humiliations, and disasters, but also a
testament to a man's ability to survive. In history, there
are no solitary dreams; one dreamer breathes life into the

It has taken me awhile to absorb the weight of Salgado's
images, and his words. After years of working in the slums
of Oakland and the strife of Latin America, I have come to
the conclusion that while every oppression gives birth to a
struggle, the confrontation with power has as its limit
necessary activity for survival, like work. Work is a
means to power, and means to resistance. Resistance
is always colonized by power, inscribed within it, yet is
not wholly determined by it.

Power and resistance, in other words, are always bound
together. They find their meeting point in work. For some
of us, work is a means of survival. For others, it is a
means of keeping things the way they are. For yet others,
it is a means for changing the world. It is rarely a pure
fuel; our work tends to be a mixture of each of these
elements. The question is: How do we use our work to move
the tipping point of history?


F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
Commencement speaker order form

by Bruce McCall


Your commencement speaker will avoid declarative
statements leading to definite conclusions when-
ever possible. You can help by checking at least
three themes below for inclusion in the address:

_ Awaiting your generation is a world of wonders
                - OR -
_ Awaiting your generation is a world of wonders - AND -
  Embrace the old values
                - OR -
_ Throw over the old values - AND -
  The world needs its poets and dreamers
                - OR -
_ The world needs no more poets and dreamers - AND -
  Yours is a generation of rare daring
                - OR -
_ Yours is a generation of complacency


Each commencement address contains eight quotations.
Put an x next to the quotations you do NOT want:

_ Alexis de Tocqueville             _ Seneca
_ Holden Caulfield                  _ J.F.K./R.F.K.
_ Robert Frost                      _ Yogi Berra
_ Gandhi                            _ Thoreau

Extra-cost options:

A 10% surcharge will apply to each 500-word Mini-Spin-
Pak you order for inclusion in your commencement address:

_ Tuition increases for a stronger America
_ The hidden blessing of plunging enrollments
_ Shattering the myths about low-ranking colleges
_ What athletic department scandal?

For a flat $200 fee, you can order the Audience Wake-up
Option to make your commencement address more memorable.
Select any one Audience Wake-up word cluster below:

- "Four wasted years"
_ "Moral vacuum"
_ "Diploma mill"
_ "Hopelessly ill-equipped"
_ "Spoiled brats"


B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
Australian corporations viewed as least corrupt

Transparency International (TI), the global anti-corruption
organization, released its Bribe Payers Index (BPI) 2002.
According to the new report's findings, several disturbing
trends have emerged:

*Companies in nations - both rich and poor - continue
to pay bribes in exchange for contracts

*Many countries are not enforcing laws against corruption

*Only one in five business experts in the world's emerging
markets is aware of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, a
landmark piece of legislation passed by the United Nations
to fight corruption - a figure unchanged from 1999

*The propensity of U.S. firms to pay bribes overseas has
increased since 1999.

TI's BPI is based on surveys conducted in 15 emerging market
economies by Gallup International Association. A ranking of
nations' perceived corruption follows (with the least-corrupt
country listed first):

Rank by country

1.  Australia
2.  Sweden
3.  Switzerland
4.  Austria
5.  Canada
6.  Netherlands
7.  Belgium
8.  United Kingdom
9.  Singapore 
10. Germany 
11. Spain 
12. France 
13. United States of America
14. Japan 
15. Malaysia 
16. Hong Kong 
17. Italy 
18. South Korea 
19. Taiwan 
20. People's Republic of China
21. Russia 

Link to story:


Holy Ground: A Resource on Faith and the Environment
from the editors of Sojourners

Are you an environmentalist or are you beginning to explore
environmental issues? This terrific study guide offers an
exciting challenge to all of us who share creation. "Holy
Ground" contains practical reflections and models for action
through articles and study questions concerning issues of
environmental racism, eco-feminism, and more.

To order, click here:


S o j o C i r c l e s
SojoCircles get organized!

An Organizer's Handbook is now available for SojoCircle
leaders. The handbook offers a brief history of Sojourners,
basic information about SojoCircles, tips for leaders and
participants, ways to get connected, ideas for additional
opportunities with your SojoCircle, a template flier for
advertising your SojoCircle, and a sample church bulletin
announcement. Get yours today by joining us in the circle.
If there isn't a SojoCircle in your area, consider leading
one yourself. For more information, send us a note at or call us at 1-800-714-7474.

Check out the newest SojoCircle in Dayton, Ohio!
Please contact the leaders and get involved:

Dayton, Ohio: Liz Bidgood Enders ( and Barb
Roberts (

A complete list of SojoCircles is now online at:


F i e l d   R e p o r t
Tracking genocide 

by Donald E. Miller

Every April I find myself grieving over the levels of
violence of which humanity is capable. April 6, 1994,
was the first day of the slaughter of 800,000 Rwandan
Tutsis by their Hutu neighbors. April 24 is the day on
which Armenians commemorate the genocide that claimed
the lives of a million or more of their ancestors in Turkey.

Both of these genocides - the first and last of the
20th century - have deep personal resonance. My father-
in-law and his sister were the only ones out of a family
of nine to survive the deportation marches of 1915. And
recently, I was in Rwanda interviewing women and orphans
who survived the most efficient genocide the world has
known. Eighty percent of the 800,000 Tutsis who died were
killed in the first six weeks, while the United States and
the United Nations were debating intervention.

Our eyes oftentimes glaze over when faced with statistics,
so let me put a human face on one victim of the violence
in Rwanda. Jennifer, not her real name, is a tall, beautiful
woman in her 30s who is missing an arm and is dying of AIDS.
Like many Tutsis, she was stopped at a roadblock set up by
Hutus shortly after President Habyarimana's plane was shot
down as it was landing in Kigali. Even though it is likely
that the president was killed by right-wingers within his
own Hutu party, plans had obviously been laid to blame and
then exterminate the minority Tutsi population.

Jennifer was raped multiple times at the roadblock, but
rather than being killed immediately she was held as a
sex slave. One of her two children and her husband died
in the violence.  Her infant child was spared until her
captor and his friends grew tired of Jennifer and decided
to kill her.  They decided to throw her into a ditch
along with a grenade.  The child Jennifer was clutching
shielded her chest, but the explosion severed her arm.
Later, someone helped her out of the ditch, but by the
time she could seek medical care her wound was crawling
with maggots. When Jennifer finally returned to her village,
she surmised that she might be HIV-positive. One of her
captors and a neighbor who had raped her had died of AIDS.

Quite legitimately, we can ask how it is possible for
neighbors to treat each other with such inhumanity. The
ultimate answer to this question is best left to
philosophers and theologians. But historians and political
scientists have suggested some ideas regarding the
mechanisms of genocide. First, genocides do not happen in
a vacuum. They typically occur during periods of war,
substantial social change, and/or economic disruption.
Secondly, a minority target population is singled out as
a scapegoat for what is occurring. Typically, they are of
a different race, nationality, or religious background.
And, thirdly, there is a legitimating ideology that
justifies the elimination of the threat (e.g., racist
philosophies, extremist expressions of nationalism, etc.)

As a professor of religion, I am quite aware of the use
of religion to polarize and divide. That is its dark side.
Religions also contain equally strong traditions celebrating
the sanctity of God's creation, especially human lives.
The rhetorical dehumanization of individuals as infidels,
cockroaches, or part of an "axis of evil" flies in the
face of these traditions and establishes the framework for
guiltless killing.

We must guard against this rhetoric in times of strife and
war. In extreme instances it has been, and can still be an
important plank in the platforms of massacre and genocide.

*Donald E. Miller is professor of religion at the University
of Southern California and executive director of USC's Center
for Religion and Civic Culture. He is also the author, with
his wife Lorna Miller, of Survivors: An Oral History of the
Armenian Genocide (University of California Press, 1993).

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S o u l   W o r k s
The true saint...

The true saint goes in and out amongst the
people and eats and sleeps with them and buys
and sells in the market and marries and takes part
in social intercourse, and never forgets God for a
single moment.

                                            - Abu Sa'id


B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
The abuse of women by Catholic clergy

Held in conjunction with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
meetings June 13-15, in Dallas, Texas.

When:  Friday, 14 June, 10 a.m. - noon

Where: "Pat Morris Ness" conference room in the Adolphus Hotel,

The event: We will have a guided discussion of sexual exploitation
of adult women (and adolescent girls) by clergy, followed by a question-
and-answer session. This will be open to press and TV coverage.
The panel will consist of experts: one psychologist, one attorney, one
representative, and two women survivors.

Panel members:

Ms. Susan M. Archibald: survivor and panel moderator.
Ms. Sylvia Demarest: attorney, Dallas, Texas.
Dr. Michael Gottlieb: psychologist, Dallas, Texas.
Fr. Gary Hayes: Catholic priest, survivor, and president of LINKUP
(survivor support organization)
Ms. Donna Scott: survivor and activist for women abused by clergy

How can survivors participate?

1. All survivors are welcome and encouraged to attend. We would
like to have as many women survivors of exploitation there as
possible in the audience. All denominations are welcome. Those
who are willing to talk to the press will wear a button.

2. Those who can't be there but would like to be represented can
do either or both of these:

a. Send a small photo with your name (first only is fine), state where
abused, age when abused. Send to: PO Box 4493, Park City, UT
84060. E-mailed photos ok.
b.  Send an email to with the name, state,
and age info described above.

The photos will be displayed in the conference room. All names
will be listed on a backdrop behind the panel.

Background information: This is a cooperative effort between SNAP
(Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests), LINKUP, and


C u l t u r e   W a t c h
Interview with musician Ani DiFranco

by Rocky Kidd

Kidd: What needs to be done today to organize in response
to globalization?

DiFranco: In the 21st century, what better angle is there to
approach global unity than [to realize that] there is blue blood
and there is red blood? And that people with red blood being
spilled all over the world are one people. The struggle these
days is between corporate monoliths and populations of
workers. I think we've gotten so far away from the idea of
democracy and so deep into the reality of capitalism that
the lie of America just doesn't float any more.

It was much easier at the turn of the last century to point to
the suspender-snapping, cigar-chomping Rockefeller and
say, "It's us against him. And we are many and he is one."
Now the network of corporate power is harder to point at.
It's much more complex to dissect. It's a more daunting
enemy, I think. But if we can bring a perspective of economic
justice, then that will open the doors for all kinds of social
justice to occur.

To read the entire interview as it appears in the May/June
issue of Sojourners magazine, link to:


                    Get your own copy.

Have you read Sojourners (the paper version) lately? You ought
to check it out for yourself. Produced by the fine folks who
bring you SojoMail each week.


R e l i g i o n   M a t t e r s
Christians hit theological rift on Mideast policy

by G. Jeffrey MacDonald

Having watched TV coverage of Palestinians scaling walls
to get to work and enduring beatings at the hands of Israeli
soldiers, Lois Gode felt a Christian calling this spring to
go explore prospects for leading tours where Israeli F-16s
had been dropping bombs by night.

"I'm a person who cannot stand injustice," says Ms. Gode,
a Benton City, Missouri, homemaker. "All this has to do with
greed and taking land away from people by whatever
means they can get it."

At the same time this spring, other Christians from the
American heartland were at the Sea of Galilee singing in
four-part harmony at the enshrined site where Jesus
delivered his Sermon on the Mount. Though these bearded
men and head-covered women share Gode's faith, they had
braved an environment of daily suicide bombings to answer a
contrary calling: encourage Israel in an hour of need....

As war in the Holy Land rages on, American Christians claim
a greater stake in the situation as they strive to understand
dynamics behind the news and to take moral stands. But
the more informed they get, the more they part company
along perennial fault lines of biblical interpretation and the
role of politics in faithfulness. They feel increasingly invested
in the conflict as denominational leaders frame it in moral
and theological terms.

To read the entire feature article, go to:


B o o m e r a n g

Coyla Anderson writes from Long Beach, California:

Re: Jim Wallis' commentary last week on welfare reform...

Do you really think keeping people dependent on welfare
supports their dignity or reduces poverty? Most of the
people who want to keep welfare they way it was are
unfortunately social workers and politicians with a
vested interest in keeping people poor. I would think
Sojourners could make a bigger contribution toward
reducing poverty and the loss of self esteem that
comes with dependency if we would think creatively
about how to get job training and jobs for those who
can work. Let's think outside the box.


Jane Schneeloch writes from Springfield, Massachusetts:

I just paid a second trip to your Web site []
but I will be back. It provides a rare blend of intelligence,
spirituality, and diversity. I was especially delighted with
"St. Teresa Puts in a Skylight," and quite surprised to see
that the poet teaches at Springfield Technical Community
College. STCC, however, is in Springfield, Massachusetts,
not West Springfield. We are proud to claim it as our own!


Rev. Bonnie Shullenberger writes from Ossining, New York:

Stewart Lane of Malawi is right on regarding the (ab)use
of foreign aid [SojoMail 05-15-02]. The main beneficiaries
are invariably the aid-giving countries - though I would
exempt, to some degree, the Scandinavian countries from
that generalization.

I lived in Uganda for two years and have been back several
times since, and the way in which aid projects are used to
further the interests of the aid-giving nation is so obvious
you can't help but see it. And this is equal-opportunity
exploitation; the Chinese are just as culpable as the
Americans. When I was in East Africa, my spiritual director
was a Roman Catholic priest from Italy who had been in-
country for more than 20 years. One day he said to me, "I
know Uganda is far ahead of most countries in dealing with
HIV, but as I look around, I see that for every person
living with HIV, there are nine living "off" it - isn't
there something wrong here?" That's pretty much the
picture of foreign aid from my perspective.


Kathryn Kingsbury writes from Madison, Wisconsin:

I read this e-mail from the Hebron Christian Peacemaker
Team just after reading the Jimmy Carter essay in the
most recent SojoMail:

"In the afternoon [members of the Peacemaker Team]
went to Beit Sahour, the home of Shepherd's Fields, to
observe the Israeli army confiscating more land for the
Israeli settlement of Har Homa. A fifteen-foot high razor-
wire fence and a six-foot trench surround the settlement
for several miles, separating Jerusalem and Bethlehem."

Jimmy Carter mentions past American diplomatic efforts
that successfully prevented settlements from being
erected between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Well, it
doesn't look like that success was permanent.


Boomerang is an open forum for all kinds of
views. The views expressed are not necessarily
those of Sojourners. Want to make your voice
heard? Send Boomerang e-mails to the editor:



W e b s c e n e
This week's best of the Web

*National hunger awareness day on June 5th

America's Second Harvest has launched a campaign
building up to National Hunger Awareness Day on June
5, when there will be a summit and dozens of local events.
Through its national network of more than 200 food banks
and food-rescue organizations and its partnerships with
government, industry and public-interest associations,
America's Second Harvest is urging America to learn more
about hunger through activities across the country, based
on the overarching theme: No one should be hungry in
America. For an overview of the campaign, go to:


*Need help with your crossword puzzles?

At, you can become a whiz with words and
have some fun in the process. Brought to you by the publisher
of the authoritative Oxford English Dictionary, the site not
only tackles common questions about grammar, punctuation,
and spelling, but also features crossword puzzles and word
games.  Go to:


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