tears

an epitaph for justice

insanity

Guns are clearly a mental health problem in America.

The number of people who have been murdered in this country using guns is staggering, yet we have continued to believe and act that all is well. We have a healthy dose of collective insanity that goes along with our collective amnesia. It’s as if every bullet fired is a shiny new object that distracts us from the pattern of killing.

The “good guy with a gun” mythology is incredibly, racially naive. Jemel Roberson and Emantic Bradford were both legally carrying a handgun, both assisting others during a violent event, and both killed by law enforcement. Their murders were “justified” by law enforcement, because there was confusion about black men holding weapons. 

Furthermore, the Dayton shooting shows that, despite trained law enforcement professionals responding in less than a minute, an active shooter was able to kill and injure dozens of people. More people with guns makes the job for law enforcement even more challenging. How in the world can they tell in the moment who is the aggressor? Active shooter scenarios are about stopping the shooter as quickly as possible – that doesn’t leave much time for questions.

There is no justifiable reason besides insanity that we do not require background checks and licenses for owning firearms. There is no reason for an individual to personally own a high-capacity magazine. And weapons kits should also be regulated. Maybe every firearm owner should also be required to be insured in the case of negligence or deliberate harm through the use of their weapons, or every firearms manufacturer – insurance companies wouldn’t bet money on such risk and neither should we as a society.

No one discounts that all of these individual people who have murdered, the gun was clearly a tool wielded for ill intent. People can go around killing people using a knife, a car, or whatever. So yes, let’s get everyone proper mental health care too. But universal healthcare? That’s insane?

So, still we seem happy to feed human sacrifices to the twisted metal gods. It is time for us to smash these false idols, repent, and turn to the Living God.

"I wish I was de-colonized enough to not feel like I need a white person to tell me: I’m thankful you are an American, please stay."

There are a million ways to policy out of this. But at the root of this crisis, this inhumanity, this national sin is a hardened heart. A heart that can say “focus on the family” and justify the division of families seeking shelter and asylum. A heart that can send shoeboxes full of toys made in China to children far away and deny soap and toothpaste to children next door. A heart that seeks to save innocent babies and looks the other way while traumatizing children. We need to repent. And we must pray for our leaders for hearts that are continually repentant.

“And they were bringing children out of suffering, into hope, and the disciples rebuked them, separated the children from their families, and refused proper care to them.

But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.”

(Source: The Atlantic)

Dios te salve, Reina y Madre de misericordia, vida, dulzura y esperanza nuestra, Dios te salve. A ti clamamos los desterrados hijos de Eva. A ti suspiramos gimiendo y llorando en este valle de lágrimas. Ea, pues, Señora, abogada nuestra: vuelve a...

Dios te salve, Reina y Madre de misericordia, vida, dulzura y esperanza nuestra, Dios te salve. A ti clamamos los desterrados hijos de Eva. A ti suspiramos gimiendo y llorando en este valle de lágrimas. Ea, pues, Señora, abogada nuestra: vuelve a nosotros esos tus ojos misericordiosos. Y después de este destierro, muéstranos a Jesús, fruto bendito de tu vientre. Oh clemente, oh piadosa, oh dulce Virgen María. Ruega por nosotros, Santa Madre de Dios, para que seamos dignos de las promesas de Cristo. Amen.

(Source: newyorker.com)

love your enemies

Since 1946, the US has trained some of the most notorious dictators, drug lords, and death squads in Latin America.

Jesus Christ, son of the living God, have mercy on us, sinners.

In 1953, the US toppled a democracy via a coup, in order to install a puppet government.

Jesus Christ, son of the living God, have mercy on us, sinners.

In 1964, the US attacked a country in its sovereign waters, then declared a decade long war in response.

Jesus Christ, son of the living God, have mercy on us, sinners.

In 1988, the US shot down a passenger plane thinking it was a fighter plane, killing 290 people, and it awarded those involved without apology.

Jesus Christ, son of the living God, have mercy on us, sinners.

In 2003, the US claimed that a country had weapons of mass destruction as the basis for an invasion, leading to almost two decades of war.

Jesus Christ, son of the living God, have mercy on us, sinners.

In 2019, we pray that the US will not seek out more violent conflict, but practice peace.

Jesus Christ, son of the living God, have mercy on us, sinners.

"The reason that people try to climb Mount Everest is because it grabs a hold of them and they feel like they just have to make the summit. And so you’ll have some people in distress and not necessarily getting help from the people who are around them. It’s this kind of bizarre thing to be surrounded by hundreds of people, and yet totally alone at the top of the world."

— Grayson Schaffer

(Source: NPR)

designing equity

When we view the world, it perhaps is often seen as a tabula rasa– a blank slate upon which we can encounter and experience. But we shape it. Every action, small or large, further creates and builds upon a world already created.

There is a truth that we all need to face: we aren’t all the same. 

The farce of one-size-fits-all is a convenient approximation and statistical erasure of our common diversity. Chairs, office temperatures, band-aids, photo light sensitivity, even astronaut spacesuits, when we create and design, it is imperative that we have equity in mind. Are we designing for the median or the margins? Are we enabling participation to the fullest for each person? And perhaps more critically, do we have the multitude of voices at that table?

Linguistic theory describes that our view on the world is constrained and shaped by the language we use to navigate it. Ask any person who is multi-lingual, and you will learn words that seem futile to translate as it is requires a particular mental model, a construction of the world to understand.

The world we navigate is no accident. Some things may be unintentional, but we are navigating a river in a boat built upon by prior generations. We must be willing to recognize the neglect that they have left; we must be willing to work to rectify the harm that persists; we must be willing to design a world that reaches the margins.

Critically, Jesus has given us a model for equity here on earth: the Eucharist. Jesus calls all to Him, experience Him through our first and final action – eating true Food, the Bread of Life. You might never evangelize to millions, you might never lead, you might never read, you might never be able to feed yourself, but you can receive the Eucharist and be united with Christ who has given Himself so that all might be saved.

2019: developing ai governance

AI is already an everyday part of our lives. From voice recognition on smart assistants to advertising, very little of what we do is not being funneled into some enormous data processing machine. Although you can choose to disable Facebook and avoid using Google (disclaimer: I work here currently), these individual actions don’t really allow you to escape from reality: the domain of AI is not only in the digital sphere, but also in the physical. The advent of autonomous vehicles, government-sanctioned mass surveillance and facial recognition and AI being integrated into criminal sentencing all are signs of the drastic societal shifts which are occurring. 

Data sovereignty and AI governance are critical policies that we need to implement. AI is not some magical science – at its core is data that has been defined, curated and determined by humans. Our action (or inaction) can either further perpetuate issues of injustice or stop them. Furthermore, it also is not enough to think of making sure that AI treats everyone the same, from the AI Now 2018 Report:

Definitions of fairness face a hard limit if they remain purely contained within the technical domain: in short, “parity is not justice.”

This is complex work, and systemic change is needed. There are no easy answers, but this is the time to push for change.

2019: confronting climate change

Climate change is the most pressing issue of our time. We only have 11 more years to implement sweeping changes before we hit a 2 degree Celsius increase that will be catastrophic to our world and human family. To not act will be the greatest sin of omission and the most forward lack of neighborly love.

“The entire material universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection for us. Soil, water, mountains – everything is, as it were, a caress of God.”

- Pope Francis in Laudato Si

Although there are actions we can take as individuals to mitigate effects, the reality is that a broad reform of systems and enforceable policies are needed to ensure the drastic cultural and societal shift needed actually takes place. What we do need to confront personally is our resiliency to austerity.

There are many different ideas and approaches to this as expressed by different people – but the time to act is now.

  • Call your Congressional representatives and senators to support a Green New Deal
  • Participate in organizations working to take action on climate change such as the Catholic Climate Covenant
  • Consume more sustainably (more to follow in #5)
  • Tell your friends and family to do the same

2019

The work of justice continues onward until the coming of our Lord. In 2019, focus is needed to both affect policy and personal behavioral changes in 5 key areas:

1. Confronting Climate Change

2. Developing AI Governance

3. Racial Justice

4. Repairing Masculinity

5. Sustainable Consumption

In the following days, I will be posting further information and actionable steps that we, as the people of God, must take to prepare the way of the Lord, both for our own salvation and that of the whole world.

Lord, have mercy on us for lack of concern, action, and willingness to die to the flesh.

Give us the fortitude and resilience to be faithful.

Mary, Mother of God, pray that we might bring forth more justice and peace as you did.