An Open Letter to Young Activists

In November 2003, thousands of people traveled to Miami to protest the Free Trade of the Americas Agreement. Among them were Celeste Kennel-Shank and other students from Goshen College in Indiana. Duane Shank, Celeste's father, spoke with the group before their departure.

While you're consumed with all the logistical details of your coming trip, I hope you take time to remember that you are in a long chain of people struggling for justice. In my lifetime alone, that chain has stretched from the civil rights movement to Vietnam to Central America to anti-apartheid to nuclear disarmament to Iraq Wars 1 and 2, and, for me now, the work to overcome domestic poverty.

I've learned a few things along the way. One important lesson is that there are things in life worth being for and things worth being against. And that sometimes to be for something, you have to be against something else.

Although it's called the "anti"-globalization movement, these protests are also "for" something very important. The movement says it in a wonderful slogan: "Another world is possible." The prophet Isaiah, nearly 3,000 years ago, described that world. If you compare his vision to the world these free trade agreements would create, you understand the reasons you are going to Miami:

We are for a world where "No more shall there be in it an infant that lives but a few days, or an old person who does not live out a lifetime; for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth." And so we are against a world where 35,000 children die each day and the life expectancy in many poor countries is only 30 to 40 years.

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Sojourners Magazine February 2004
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