Jun 242015
 

Why is the Confederate Flag a big deal right now?

Why wasn’t it such a big deal a couple of weeks ago?

Let me share a couple of thoughts…..

The Confederate Flag is a symbol of a time in the United States that was very bleak, very dark and very sad.   Brother was fighting brother, thousands of men died and ideas, ideals and beliefs were questioned.  

  • Many people were fighting for their “economic way of life.”  
  • Many people were fighting to keep their country together.  
  • Many people were fighting to keep the slavery system in place and the black people as slaves doing the manual labor running their plantations.

While some people can argue that the Confederate Flag is a symbol of the heritage of the South, I think they are missing a couple of key points:

  • The South lost.  I’ve heard people compare the waving of the Confederate flag to people from Texas wearing cowboy boots even if they don’t ride a horse.   Excuse me?   Supporting a movement that cost thousands of lives and had as one of its goals to keep thousands of people in slavery and you’re comparing it to people from Dallas who like to ride a motorcycle and wear cowboy boots?
  • There are many people in the United States whose direct ancestors were harmed and/or killed by the efforts of the Confederacy.   In addition, there are many more who suffered for years because of the slavery that the Confederacy fought to keep.

So why now?  Obviously there is a big and contentious history behind the Confederate Flag and it means different things to different people.    Not everyone sees the flag the same way, this is a given.

But, the blatant racist events that happened in Charleston, the killer spending an hour in a prayer meeting before turning a gun on the prayer group members, the message that he sent about wanting to start a race war, that was like tearing out the  stitches on a wound that had “almost” healed.   It still hurt and wasn’t totally healed but it was better.

And then Bam!

Someone took a staple remover or a needle-nosed pliers and yanked out the staples.

The wound breaks open.

Blood comes out.

It hurts.   It hurts a lot.   Enough that you need to go visit the ER.

That’s why the Confederate Flag is an issue now.   It is an old pain that has come back to hurt us.

It’s an old wound that has been reopened.

And if we are going to make progress in healing the wounds of racism in this country, this wound needs to go away and be confined to museums and history books.

That’s why the Confederate flag is an issue right now.

Tom

http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/24/politics/alabama-governor-confederate-flags/

Jun 182015
 

A TED talk about the long term effects of trauma on children.    They don’t just “get over it.”    In many cases, they bear the scars of it for the rest of their lives.

This is why we do this – to help children avoid trauma and avoid the life long consequences of these horrible things happening to them or to those they love.

TJV

Jun 172015
 

Here’s some of what I’ve seen and read about the issue since I wrote about it yesterday:

There is a petition on MoveOn.org to ask the United States government to intervene and stop the deportation of the Haitians from the DR.   You can sign the petition at Moveon.org.

I did.

The deadline was supposed to be today to begin the deportations.   This article in the Guardian explains quite well the logistics and the fact that of a potential 200,000 to 250,000 people of Haitian descent, only 10,000 have been able to file the newly required paperwork and only 300 have actually gotten the permits.    So, even if the process and the requirements weren’t racist and discriminatory, there is no way that the bureacracy of the DR could issue the paperwork in time.

This article is actually in Creole – and so I can’t say I understand it all.   But from what a friend of mine (30 year resident of Haiti) told me, it basically says:

  • President Martelly is saying that Haiti will welcome the deported Haitian immigrants with dignity.
  • We are working on a way to welcome them into Haiti.

I was also told that the government of the DR has put a 45 day moratorium on deportations in order to attempt to accomplish two things:

  • Give the government of the DR time to process a few more of the files that were completed.   Anyone want to venture a guess as to how many of the 10,000 will be processed and, in a world where documentation is in many cases non existent, meet the requirements?
  • Give the Haitian government time to prepare a “welcome plan” at the UN Military base near the northern border.    I dare venture that a government with the resources like the US has would be hard pressed to implement a plan and have resources in place in 45 days, let alone a government with limited resources.

There are a lot of moving parts to this, but it truly has the makings of a humanitarian disaster of epic proportions.   Please keep spreading the word, asking for help and praying for those involved.

Thanks,

TJV

Jun 162015
 

It’s not an accurate comparison.

At least not yet.

And I pray that it never gets to that point, but there’s trouble brewing in the Caribbean and the “First World” seems to know nothing or if they know, they don’t seem to want to talk about it.

What is it?

It’s a piece of legislation that is about to be enforced in The Dominican Republic.  The legislation was passed back in 2013 and there was a good bit of protest at that point but it didn’t change anything.   Now it appears that the government of the DR is going to enforce it – potentially as early as this Thursday and other “rumblings” state that they will enforce it in August.

It says that says if you live in The Dominican Republic and were born after 1929 (in other words – anyone 86 or younger) and are not of “Dominican ancestry” then you are going to be deported to the country of your ancestry.  (I’ll quote links to this information at the bottom of this article)

So, if your parents left Haiti in search of a better life and moved to The Dominican 50 years ago, and you were born in the Dominican, by virtue of where you were born, you are a citizen of the DR.   Let’s say you are 40 years old, your wife is 37 and you have four kids.    Your wife’s parents also came over from Haiti before she was born.

So you and your wife and your kids are all citizens of the DR according to the rules that used to be in place.   Oh and since your entire family moved to Haiti, you have never set foot in Haiti.

Ever.

Well, the government of the DR in it’s racist and antagonistic “wisdom” passed a law that essentially said, “If you are of Haitian descent, we don’t want you.   Go home.”

What a minute, the DR is their home – they have never lived anywhere else?

The government of the DR is taking steps to send upwards of 250,000 people – people who “had” citizenship in the DR – and strip them of that citizenship and deport them and send them back to Haiti.

How can they send them “back” when they have never been there?

And what are they going to do when they get to Haiti?

The most recent estimate I heard was that unemployment in Haiti was upwards of 80%.   How are they going to absorb 250,000 refugees?   How are they going to eat?   How are they going to have a place to live?  I don’t think thsi is an overstatement to say that this is one of the worst if not the absolute worst humanitarian crisis waiting to happen in the Western Hemisphere.

Yes, what Germany did to the Jews in World War II was way worse.

Yes, what South Africa did to the blacks during apartheid was way worse.

But both Germany and South Africa started somewhere.   And the world didn’t do anything.

And it got worse.

And the world didn’t do anything.

And it got worse.

Not only does Haiti not have the resources to take in 250,000 refugees of blatant racism, but it is just plain wrong.

People will die if this happens.

And the first world is quiet.

Please, I’m done being quiet.   We can’t be quiet.

So what can you do?

Possible things to do:

  1. Pray – pray that God will intervene and stop this from happening.
  2. Boycott the DR – don’t go there and don’t buy anything that comes from them.
  3. Write your local media – forward some of these articles to them – ask them to write about it.
  4. Write your congressional representatives and Senators – ask them why they haven’t done anything.

Below are some links to articles about this disaster that is waiting to happen.   It’s a disaster of a humanitarian sense and a disaster in a spiritual and moral sense.

May we not be quiet while this is happening.

Tom

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/06/14/1393198/-Dominican-Republic-to-be-Socially-Cleaned-in-two-days

http://www.ryot.org/5-things-know-cleaning-haitians-dominican-republic/935183

Jun 152015
 

Just a week and a half ago, I was speaking at a conference to a group of adoptive families.   All of them were there because they wanted to learn more about how they can help others walk this adoption road.   During the time I was talking, I told them that when I look now at what I knew 12 years ago when we started the process, my first thought is,  “Boy was I naïve’!”

I still run into that feeling as I talk to people, read about issues and try to remain as knowledgeable as possible on all of the issues facing children, particularly vulnerable children in this world.

The many face of vulnerable can be truly overwhelming.

  • They can be parents attempting to help their children heal from trauma they suffered before joining their family.
  • They can be siblings attempting to heal from the trauma they suffered after a new family member joined their family.
  • They can be the poverty stricken – literally all over the world.
  • They can be the victims of sex trafficking and their families – I can’t even imagine what the girls from Nigeria and their families have and are going through.
  • They can be the victims of injustice.
  • They can be the victims of racial discrimination.
  • They can be the victims of trauma and abandonment – and the struggles that leads to which many of them will heal from but will never fully get over.
  • and the list could go on and on for pages and pages.

The many faces of vulnerable can almost be paralyzing.   There’s so much and the problem is so big and we’re so comfortable in our middle class homes and our middle class lives.

The Vulnerable Project is going to be adjusting it’s focus a bit.   Our goal is going to be to not only motivate people to do something about the vulnerable of the world but to provide specific structures, specific contexts, specific ideas that people can do so that if you want to “do something,” you can do something.

And together, if we all do something, and we all do it in a focused, coherent and relatively organized manner, we can make a difference.

So, stay tuned, there’s a lot of stuff happening and a lot of ideas “in the mix.”

Thanks for caring about the vulnerable.   Thanks for caring about the children of the world.

Tom

May 292015
 

Everything happens for a reason.

I’ve never had a tremendous amount of peace with the sentiment. I think it gives the terrible stuff too much power, too much poetry; as if there must be nobility and purpose within the brutal devastation we may find ourselves sitting in. In our profound distress, this idea forces us to run down dark, twisted rabbit trails, looking for the specific part of The Greater Plan that this suffering all fits into.

via Why Everything Does Not Happen For A Reason | john pavlovitz.