Dedicated to Susanita Michelle Coccinella
Breath the Rainbow of Life
As the rainbow bleeds its colors down to me,
arouse the other me,
life starts to grow
emotions and sensations
that were lost in the darkness
boredom of neglect and disaffection.
as pain recedes slightly,
on every inch of life’s color regained:
the red is velvet wrapped by soft rosy aroma,
the purple is lavender of sensations that surrounds,
every infinite atom of my soul.
My lungs are not just organs of existence,
they become the source of hope,
inflicting life to warm my blood that races to meet a redder heart,
more beautiful, free of anguish and pain,
free to love again.
I breath the air to inhale the hope to born again..
to learn that life is meaningless without love,
I born again to love love
to love it with the passion and the color
of the rainbow.
Let me, as I feel free,
let me be a little crazy, artistic and poetic
don’t judge me world for my soul is free
let me love the way I love
love my colors like the rainbow
like the rainbow love the sky that let it be.
-Marivel Guzman- Feb 5 2016
American Anthropological Association to boycott Israel
“DENVER, Nov. 20 — In a historic vote Friday night, the American Anthropological Association at its annual business meeting resoundingly approved a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions by a vote of 1040-136. The resolution will now be forwarded to the full membership for a final vote by electronic ballot in the coming months.”
The anthropologists against the resolution issued today the following statement after the vote was published by the organization they insist that it is injustice to boycott Israel when Palestine is not even a state.
“We, the undersigned anthropologists, oppose the recent call by some of our colleagues to boycott Israeli academic institutions. Today, there is a state of Israel but not yet a Palestinian state: this injustice should be rectified as soon as possible. ”
From all the movement of solidarity with Palestine today historical vote put Palestine at the at the level of Israel as a state.
Now is not only Prof Ilan Pappe the Israeli scholar telling the world that Israel is ethnic cleansing the indigenous population of Palestine, the AAA now can vouch that claim as well.
Since 2012 the issue of Palestine/Israel conflict was on the conversation in the organization and finally on 2014 the AAA sent a team of Anthropologists research team to Palestine and the Occupied Territories (Israel) to find facts of claims made by writers, journalists, activists and Palestinians regarding the situation. A report was issue on October 1, of the findings and today in their annual meeting the members of the AAA gave their scientific opinion and vote to boycott Israel.
Principles and Recommendations for Potential Action:The American Anthropological Association is a scholarly society with commitmentsto academic freedom and to protecting the personal welfare of professional anthropologists and other academics all over the world.We find that the policies and practices of the Israeli government placesignificant limitations on academic freedom and have led to substantial deprivations in the health and welfare of Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, as well as within Israel itself.
The resolution enjoins the Association not to enter into any formal collaborations with Israeli academic institutions. Individual Israeli scholars may continue to participate in AAA conferences and publications. Moreover, individual AAA members will remain free to determine for themselves whether and how to apply the boycott in their own professional practice.
As heirs to a long tradition of scholarship on colonialism, anthropologists affirm, through this resolution, that the core problem is Israel’s maintenance of a settler colonial regime based on Jewish supremacy and Palestinian dispossession. By supporting the boycott, anthropologists are taking a stand for justice through action in solidarity with Palestinians.
Today’s historic result is due to over three years of organizing within the Association to educate and mobilize members to stand against Israel’s widespread, systematic, and ongoing violations of Palestinian rights, as well as to protest the complicity of Israeli academic institutions in these abuses. The vote was also a powerful act of protest against U.S. support for Israel’s actions.
Read the report here
by Marivel Guzman
Thanks to Jacob Cohen for sharing the story in his facebook’s page
The Boycott Divestment and Sanctions of Israel it is happening all over the world. Operation “Boycott” was launched in France before French’s courts declared it illegal on October 20, action that is being challenged as a serious attack on freedom of expression.
If you want to know more about the stores that carry Illegal Israel’s products and want to support for Palestinian society in its BDS campaign, add the following store to your boycott’s list.
Rue de Roquebillière · +33 4 92 17 74 79
A Carrefour TNL, pro-Palestinian activists have led a boycott operation of Israeli’s products yesterday. The products were removed from shelves and piled into shopping carts installed in the corridors of the supermarket.
About thirty activists who support the campaign “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” (BDS), launched in 2005 by the Palestinian civil society, have emptied the shelves of Carrefour TNL last Saturday morning.
In their sights: was a brand name machine that adds oxygen and flavor to the water, this product is made in East Jerusalem in an illegal settlement.
Activists have emptied the shelves and they crammed the products in carts in the aisles of the supermarket. Without causing crowding.
“We are for peace,” the activists said.
“We are here to denounce Israel colonialist’s policy and this action is to ask the supermarket not to offer for sale products from the illegal Israeli settlements in Palestine,” said Michel Abada, BDS member. “We are for peace.” We want this conflict to end and It is not intended to boycott Israeli society or its members,” adds Ismaël Bendjeffal, BDS member.
The punch action operation lasted about twenty minutes before management intervened without confronting the activists. The operation “Boycott” was launched all over France, but declared illegal since 20 October this year. The Supreme Court sentenced 14 BDS activists. “A serious attack on freedom of expression is to be challenged in France’s courts,” according to BDS campaigners.
Nick Locke, 19-year-old, from University California San Diego, and member of Students for Global health, first place, at the moment to enter the finishing line at the Gaza5k Orange County/LA walk/run, at Mile Square Park on October 24, 2015 donation drive for Mental Health Programs in Gaza, Palestine, sponsored by UNRAWA USA, with the participation of the Community of Palestinian at Fountain Valley, Calif photo/Marivel Guzman
Today the community of Orange, San Diego, Riverside and Los Angeles counties areas came together once again to show solidarity with Palestine specially the children of the besieged Gaza Strip. Palestinian supporters and runners enthusiasts gathered today at Mile Square Park in Fountain Valley, Calif to participate and raise funds in the annual GAZA5K event sponsored by United National Relief Works Agency USA to raise funds for the children of Gaza.
The Gaza5K is an annual walk/run hosted by United National Relief Works Agency USA. This event raises funds for UNRWA’s Community Mental Health Program (CMHP) to support thousands of refugee children in Gaza affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other psychological trauma.
According to Save the Children in one area, al-Shoka, nearly half the children interviewed wet the bed every night. Up to 89% of parents reported that their children suffer consistent feelings of fear, while more than 70% of children said they worried about another war. On average seven out of 10 children interviewed suffer regular nightmares.
“Save the Children CEO Justin Forsyth said in a statement that, ‘Many children in Gaza have now lived through three wars in the past seven years, the last one notable for its brutality. They are emotionally and, in some cases, physically shattered.” Save the Children
During last year’s 51-day war, 551 children in Gaza were killed and 3,436 were injured, while an estimated 1,500 lost their parents. Many more were made homeless and saw their schools damaged or destroyed. In Israel, one child was also killed by rocket fire and 270 were injured.
UNRWA USA is an independent nonprofit organization that supports the humanitarian and human development work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) through fundraising, advocacy, and outreach. UNRWA USA aims to educate the general American public about the situation of Palestine refugees and generate support for UNRWA’s work in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan.
Approximately 500 people between participants, volunteers and Palestinian supporters showed up to the event. According to Laila Mokhiber coordinator of UNRWA USA the $ 75,000 goal was meet. Business sponsors and Team sponsors collected most of the money. T-shirts bearing the logo of sponsors were distributed between participants of the race and supporters.
The event was well advertised in Facebook and other social media platforms expecting to attract some media to cover the event, but as always they stay silence, except for Don Kim, a photojournalist from Korea News Agency that came to cover the race.
Don Kim, photojournalist for Korean News Agency said that he picked the event at his agency website. Kim said that he has been covering Palestine for some time now, and has visited Gaza, Jerusalem and West Ban. He supports Palestine.
The following teams were present: Kinder USA, Students for Justice for Palestine from University California, Riverside, Students for Global Health, Palestine Youth Movement, OC Halal Food Fest, Alliso Viejo Moms for Gaza Team, Laith N Hasan Sponsor Team, Loay Elbasyouni sponsor team, Palestinian American of Women Association (PAWA).
Amir Hammad portrays a Palestinian flag on his face.
The Musa Family came specially from Florida to attend the event
California communities send their condolences to the families in Palestine that have lost dear ones during the the recent events.
Well he goes to blame the current situation to the leaders of Palestine for the anger that is uncontrollable and has been displaced by the Palestinian youth mostly in recent incidents. Worth mentioning that only part of the stabbings did really happened as published by Palestinian news and other outlets, the rest of the Palestinians killed have been staged by the settlers filled with their common hate for any Arab; Christian or Muslim. And even there is an incident that a settler confused the darker skin of an individual for Palestinian and it was a Jew. Last Thursday, The New York Post said that 31 Palestinians were killed recently from which only, 14 were recognized as attackers, according to mathematics the other 17 were indeed executed
Palestinians have been living in Palestine for centuries as history records.
If you like recorded history and want to learn more about Palestine, I invite you to visit Palestine Remembered where you can watch videos of interviews from Palestinians and Jews before the creation of the political entity Israel, photos of villages all gone now, stories of battles and more.”The CORE issues of the Palestinian-Israeli are the collective dispossession and ethnic cleansing (compulsory population transfer to achieve political objectives) of the Palestinian people for the past six decades. In our opinion, the conflict would have been at the same level of intensity even if both parties had been Jewish, Muslims, or Christians. ” PalestineRemembered.com
Golberg repeats the same mantra that is being distributed by the Streaming Media: “Netayahu has said that the State of Israel is not trying to change the Status Quo.”
But what is the “Status Quo”?
Are check points the Status Quo?
“Each checkpoint looks like a military zone, consisting of a guard tower, a pedestrian waiting area, and two car lanes: one with a long wait for Palestinian cars and a special open car lane for Israeli cars. ” Electronic Intifada 2004
Palestinian Muslim males over 45 not allow to enter Jerusalem.
The South Africa pass laws implemented in Israel are kicking and running. Palestinians need to secure a permit to move around the occupied territories. If Israel feels like it, it won’t grant a permit.
Palestinians are not allowed to freely move in Palestine at all. Shuhada Street in Hebron is one of the best examples of living under a military dictatorship occupation. Shuhada Street is close for Palestinians but Jews can freely walk and harass the Palestinians residents that live on Shuhada street but need to leave their homes thru a hole on the roof.
Jerusalem is only open on Friday and males 55+, women 45+ after IOF clearance.
People living in Gaza are not allow to enter West Bank at all, actually the refugee camp of Gaza is a deportation camp. Families are completely separated.
And also do not forget that the violence is not only in Jerusalem but in all the occupied territories including the modern concentration camp of Gaza which has been blocked from the rest of the world for almost 10 years.
So, people do not swallow the pill that this is a religious war, is not.Goldberg makes an excellent surgical extraction of the truth to portray the Israel’s side of the story.
For people that only follows the main stream media news, Goldberg’s piece is an excellent source to stay uninformed, misinformed and with this stripping Palestinian of all their humanity and right to fight for their existence in the only way they know; throwing rocks and now using kitchen knives.
Remember Israel has tanks, F16s, Apache Helicopters, Drones, War ships to attack Gaza, in other words Israel has all the defense gadgets and Palestinians has none but stones and knives. The fact that Palestine has been invaded many times in history does not mean it did not exist before United Nations decided to partition the land in 1947. It does not means either that the violence started on 1947. It only means that Palestinians have been peaceful people that never wonder outside of their land, they have been farmers and shepherds, not conquerors.Further reading Survey of Palestine by British Mandate 1200 pages report includes 1917-1945
With sad heart I share the #ThirdIntifada manifesto published on Palestinian websites today.
The Palestinian political parties excluding Palestinian Authority in accordance with the situation on the ground have decided to launch the #ThirdIntifada. Palestinians have shown so much restrain on the face of the latest assassinations perpetrated by the #Apartheid illegal entity of Israel and under the consent and total silence of the International Community (leaders) and including the worthless apparatus of the United Nations.
Israel by its actions pushed for this revolution of liberation.
There is so much a nation can take. Palestinians patiently and with resilience pace took on non-violent approach to stop
#Apartheid Israel from taking more land and from killing more Palestinians, but they see no other way but to uprise, mimicking South Africa uprisings that ended the #Apartheid Regime of South Africa with the help of the International Boycott Divestment and Sanctions that took place against the Apartheid regime.
Palestine starts mourning the martyrs in anticipation of the massacre that approaches.
Remember we have a nation with no army, no tanks, no planes, no apache helicopters, no naval ships or anything that say that this battle will be equal . Palestinian militias only count with rifles and the civilian population only have kitchens knives and stones.
October 10, 2015 is the official date for the #ThirdIntifada :'(
Third Intifada: Barghouti’s Manifesto
By Uri Avnery
Marwan Barghouti has spoken up. After a long silence, he has sent a message from prison.
In Israeli ears, this message does not sound pleasant. But for Palestinians, and for Arabs in general,
it makes sense.
His message may well become the new program of the Palestinian liberation movement.
I first met Marwan in the heyday of post-Oslo optimism. He was emerging as a leader of the new
Palestinian generation, the home-grown young activists, men and women, who had matured in the
He is a man of small physical stature and large personality. When I met him, he was already the
leader of Tanzim (“organization”), the youth group of the Fatah movement.
The topic of our conversations then was the organization of demonstrations and other non-violent
actions, based on close cooperation between the Palestinians and Israeli peace groups. The aim was
peace between Israel and a new State of Palestine.
When the Oslo process died with the assassinations of Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, Marwan and
his organization became targets. Successive Israeli leaders – Binyamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak and
Ariel Sharon – decided to put an end to the two-state agenda. In the brutal “Defensive Shield
operation (launched by Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, the new leader of the Kadima Party) the
Palestinian Authority was attacked, its services destroyed and many of its activists arrested.
Marwan Barghouti was put on trial. It was alleged that, as the leader of Tanzim, he was responsible
for several “terrorist” attacks in Israel. His trial was a mockery, resembling a Roman gladiatorial
arena more than a judicial process. The hall was packed with howling rightists, presenting
themselves as “victims of terrorism”. Members of Gush Shalom protested against the trial inside the
court building but we were not allowed anywhere near the accused.
Marwan was sentenced to five life sentences. The picture of him raising his shackled hands above
his head has become a Palestinian national icon. When I visited his family in Ramallah, it was
hanging in the living room.
In prison, Marwan Barghouti was immediately recognized as the leader of all Fatah prisoners. He is
respected by Hamas activists as well. Together, the imprisoned leaders of Fatah and Hamas
published several statements calling for Palestinian unity and reconciliation. These were widely
distributed outside and received with admiration and respect.
(Members of the extended Barghouti family, by the way, play a major role in Palestinian affairs
across the entire spectrum from moderate to extremist. One of them is Mustapha Barghouti, a
doctor who heads a moderate Palestinian party with many connections abroad, whom I regularly
meet at demonstrations in Bilin and elsewhere. I once joked that we always cry when we see each
other – from tear gas. The family has its roots in a group of villages north of Jerusalem.)
Nowadays, Marwan Barghouti is considered the outstanding candidate for leader of Fatah and
president of the Palestinian Authority after Mahmoud Abbas. He is one of the very few personalities
around whom all Palestinians, Fatah as well as Hamas, can unite.
After the capture of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, when the prisoner exchange was discussed,
Hamas put Marwan Barghouti on top of the list of Palestinian prisoners whose release it demanded.
This was a very unusual gesture, since Marwan belonged to the rival – and reviled – faction.
The Israeli government struck Marwan from the list right away, and remained adamant. When Shalit
was finally released, Marwan stayed in prison. Obviously he was considered more dangerous than
hundreds of Hamas “terrorists” with “blood on their hands”.
Cynics would say: because he wants peace. Because he sticks to the two-state solution. Because he
can unify the Palestinian people for that purpose. All good reasons for a Netanyahu to keep him
So what did Marwan tell his people this week?
Clearly, his attitude has hardened. So, one must assume, has the attitude of the Palestinian people at
He calls for a Third Intifada, a non-violent mass uprising in the spirit of the Arab Spring.
His manifesto is a clear rejection of the policy of Mahmoud Abbas, who maintains limited but all-
important cooperation with the Israeli occupation authorities. Marwan calls for a total rupture of all
forms of cooperation, whether economic, military or other.
A focal point of this cooperation is the day-to-day collaboration of the American-trained Palestinian
security services with the Israeli occupation forces. This arrangement has effectively stopped violent
Palestinian attacks in the occupied territories and in Israel proper. It guarantees, In practice, the
security of the growing Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
Marwan also calls for a total boycott of Israel, Israeli institutions and products in the Palestinian
territories and throughout the world. Israeli products should disappear from West Bank shops,
Palestinian products should be promoted.
At the same time, Marwan advocates an official end to the charade called “peace negotiations”. This
term, by the way, is never heard anymore in Israel. First it was replaced with “peace process”, then
“political process”, and lately “the political matter”. The simple word “peace” has become taboo
among rightists and most “leftists” alike. It’s political poison.
Marwan proposes to make the absence of peace negotiations official. No more international talk
about “reviving the peace process”, no more rushing around of ridiculous people like Tony Blair, no
more hollow announcements by Hillary Clinton and Catherine Ashton, no more empty declarations of
the “Quartet”. Since the Israeli government clearly has abandoned the two-state solution – which it
never really accepted in the first place – keeping up the pretense just harms the Palestinian struggle.
Instead of this hypocrisy, Marwan proposes to renew the battle in the UN. First, apply again to the
Security Council for the acceptance of Palestine as a member state, challenging the US to use its
solitary veto openly against practically the whole world. After the expected rejection of the
Palestinian request by the Council as a result of the veto, request a decision by the General
Assembly, where the vast majority would vote in favor. Though this would not be binding, it would
demonstrate that the freedom of Palestine enjoys the overwhelming support of the family of nations,
and isolate Israel (and the US) even more.
Parallel to this course of action, Marwan insists on Palestinian unity, using his considerable moral
force to put pressure on both Fatah and Hamas.
To summarize, Marwan Barghouti has given up all hope of achieving Palestinian freedom through
cooperation with Israel, or even Israeli opposition forces. The Israeli peace movement is not
mentioned anymore. “Normalization” has become a dirty word.
These ideas are not new, but coming from the No. 1 Palestinian prisoner, the foremost candidate for
the succession of Mahmoud Abbas, the hero of the Palestinian masses, it means a turn to a more
militant course, both in substance and in tone.
Marwan remains peace oriented – as he made clear when, in a rare recent appearance in court, he
called out to the Israeli journalists that he continues to support the two-state solution. He also
remains committed to non-violent action, having come to the conclusion that the violent attacks of
yesteryear harmed the Palestinian cause instead of furthering it.
He wants to call a halt to the gradual and unwilling slide of the Palestinian Authority into a Vichy-
like collaboration, while the expansion of the Israeli “settlement enterprise” goes on undisturbed.
Not by accident did Marwan publish his manifesto on the eve of “Land Day”, the world-wide day of
protest against the occupation.
“Land Day” is the anniversary of an event that took place in 1976 to protest against the decision of
the Israeli government to expropriate huge tracts of Arab-owned land in Galilee and other parts of
Israel. The Israeli army and police fired on the protesters, killing six of them. (The day after, two of
my friends and I laid wreaths on the graves of the victims, an act that earned me an outbreak of
hatred and vilification I have seldom experienced.)
Land day was a turning point for Israel’s Arab citizens, and later became a symbol for Arabs
everywhere. This year, the Netanyahu government threatened to shoot anybody who even
approaches our borders. It may well be a harbinger for the Third Intifada heralded by Marwan.
For some time now, the world has lost much of its interest in Palestine. Everything looks quiet.
Netanyahu has succeeded in deflecting world attention from Palestine to Iran. But in this country,
nothing is ever static. While it seems that nothing is happening, settlements are growing incessantly,
and so is the deep resentment of the Palestinians who see this happening before their eyes.
Marwan Barghouti’s manifesto expresses the near-unanimous feelings of the Palestinians in the
West Bank and elsewhere. Like Nelson Mandela in apartheid South Africa, the man in prison may
well be more important than the leaders outside.
– Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He contributed this article to
PalestineChronicle.com. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.
Honorable Members of Congress,
I am most grateful for your invitation to address this Joint Session of Congress in “the land of the free and the home of the brave”. I would like to think that the reason for this is that I too am a son of this great continent, from which we have all received so much and toward which we share a common responsibility.
Each son or daughter of a given country has a mission, a personal and social responsibility. Your own responsibility as members of Congress is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation. You are the face of its people, their representatives. You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics. A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk. Legislative activity is always based on care for the people. To this you have been invited, called and convened by those who elected you.
Yours is a work which makes me reflect in two ways on the figure of Moses. On the one hand, the patriarch and lawgiver of the people of Israel symbolizes the need of peoples to keep alive their sense of unity by means of just legislation. On the other, the figure of Moses leads us directly to God and thus to the transcendent dignity of the human being. Moses provides us with a good synthesis of your work: you are asked to protect, by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face.
Today I would like not only to address you, but through you the entire people of the United States. Here, together with their representatives, I would like to take this opportunity to dialogue with the many thousands of men and women who strive each day to do an honest day’s work, to bring home their daily bread, to save money and –one step at a time — to build a better life for their families. These are men and women who are not concerned simply with paying their taxes, but in their own quiet way sustain the life of society. They generate solidarity by their actions, and they create organizations which offer a helping hand to those most in need.
I would also like to enter into dialogue with the many elderly persons who are a storehouse of wisdom forged by experience, and who seek in many ways, especially through volunteer work, to share their stories and their insights. I know that many of them are retired, but still active; they keep working to build up this land. I also want to dialogue with all those young people who are working to realize their great and noble aspirations, who are not led astray by facile proposals, and who face difficult situations, often as a result of immaturity on the part of many adults. I wish to dialogue with all of you, and I would like to do so through the historical memory of your people.
My visit takes place at a time when men and women of good will are marking the anniversaries of several great Americans. The complexities of history and the reality of human weakness notwithstanding, these men and women, for all their many differences and limitations, were able by hard work and self-sacrifice — some at the cost of their lives — to build a better future. They shaped fundamental values which will endure forever in the spirit of the American people. A people with this spirit can live through many crises, tensions and conflicts, while always finding the resources to move forward, and to do so with dignity. These men and women offer us a way of seeing and interpreting reality. In honoring their memory, we are inspired, even amid conflicts, and in the here and now of each day, to draw upon our deepest cultural reserves.
I would like to mention four of these Americans: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton.
This year marks the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, the guardian of liberty, who labored tirelessly that “this nation, under God, [might] have a new birth of freedom”. Building a future of freedom requires love of the common good and cooperation in a spirit of subsidiarity and solidarity.
All of us are quite aware of, and deeply worried by, the disturbing social and political situation of the world today. Our world is increasingly a place of violent conflict, hatred and brutal atrocities, committed even in the name of God and of religion. We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism. This means that we must be especially attentive to every type of fundamentalism, whether religious or of any other kind. A delicate balance is required to combat violence perpetrated in the name of a religion, an ideology or an economic system, while also safeguarding religious freedom, intellectual freedom and individual freedoms. But there is another temptation which we must especially guard against: the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners. The contemporary world, with its open wounds which affect so many of our brothers and sisters, demands that we confront every form of polarization which would divide it into these two camps. We know that in the attempt to be freed of the enemy without, we can be tempted to feed the enemy within. To imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place. That is something which you, as a people, reject.
Our response must instead be one of hope and healing, of peace and justice. We are asked to summon the courage and the intelligence to resolve today’s many geopolitical and economic crises. Even in the developed world, the effects of unjust structures and actions are all too apparent. Our efforts must aim at restoring hope, righting wrongs, maintaining commitments, and thus promoting the well-being of individuals and of peoples. We must move forward together, as one, in a renewed spirit of fraternity and solidarity, cooperating generously for the common good.
The challenges facing us today call for a renewal of that spirit of cooperation, which has accomplished so much good throughout the history of the United States. The complexity, the gravity and the urgency of these challenges demand that we pool our resources and talents, and resolve to support one another, with respect for our differences and our convictions of conscience.
In this land, the various religious denominations have greatly contributed to building and strengthening society. It is important that today, as in the past, the voice of faith continue to be heard, for it is a voice of fraternity and love, which tries to bring out the best in each person and in each society. Such cooperation is a powerful resource in the battle to eliminate new global forms of slavery, born of grave injustices which can be overcome only through new policies and new forms of social consensus.
Here I think of the political history of the United States, where democracy is deeply rooted in the mind of the American people. All political activity must serve and promote the good of the human person and be based on respect for his or her dignity. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” (Declaration of Independence, 4 July 1776). If politics must truly be at the service of the human person, it follows that it cannot be a slave to the economy and finance. Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life. I do not underestimate the difficulty that this involves, but I encourage you in this effort.
Here too I think of the march which Martin Luther King led from Selma to Montgomery fifty years ago as part of the campaign to fulfill his “dream” of full civil and political rights for African Americans. That dream continues to inspire us all. I am happy that America continues to be, for many, a land of “dreams”. Dreams which lead to action, to participation, to commitment. Dreams which awaken what is deepest and truest in the life of a people.
In recent centuries, millions of people came to this land to pursue their dream of building a future in freedom. We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants. Tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected. For those peoples and their nations, from the heart of American democracy, I wish to reaffirm my highest esteem and appreciation. Those first contacts were often turbulent and violent, but it is difficult to judge the past by the criteria of the present. Nonetheless, when the stranger in our midst appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past. We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our “neighbors” and everything around us. Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mindset of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal subsidiarity, in a constant effort to do our best. I am confident that we can do this.
Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War. This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions. On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities. Is this not what we want for our own children? We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation. To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal. We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Mt 7:12).
This Rule points us in a clear direction. Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us. The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.
This conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty. I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes. Recently my brother bishops here in the United States renewed their call for the abolition of the death penalty. Not only do I support them, but I also offer encouragement to all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.
In these times when social concerns are so important, I cannot fail to mention the Servant of God Dorothy Day, who founded the Catholic Worker Movement. Her social activism, her passion for justice and for the cause of the oppressed, were inspired by the Gospel, her faith, and the example of the saints.
How much progress has been made in this area in so many parts of the world! How much has been done in these first years of the third millennium to raise people out of extreme poverty! I know that you share my conviction that much more still needs to be done, and that in times of crisis and economic hardship a spirit of global solidarity must not be lost. At the same time I would encourage you to keep in mind all those people around us who are trapped in a cycle of poverty. They too need to be given hope. The fight against poverty and hunger must be fought constantly and on many fronts, especially in its causes. I know that many Americans today, as in the past, are working to deal with this problem.
It goes without saying that part of this great effort is the creation and distribution of wealth. The right use of natural resources, the proper application of technology and the harnessing of the spirit of enterprise are essential elements of an economy which seeks to be modern, inclusive and sustainable. “Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving the world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the area in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good” (Laudato Si’, 129). This common good also includes the earth, a central theme of the encyclical which I recently wrote in order to “enter into dialogue with all people about our common home” (ibid., 3). “We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all” (ibid., 14).
In Laudato Si’, I call for a courageous and responsible effort to “redirect our steps” (ibid., 61), and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity. I am convinced that we can make a difference and I have no doubt that the United States — and this Congress — have an important role to play. Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a “culture of care” (ibid., 231) and “an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature” (ibid., 139). “We have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology” (ibid., 112); “to devise intelligent ways of… developing and limiting our power” (ibid., 78); and to put technology “at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral” (ibid., 112). In this regard, I am confident that America’s outstanding academic and research institutions can make a vital contribution in the years ahead.
A century ago, at the beginning of the Great War, which Pope Benedict XV termed a “pointless slaughter”, another notable American was born: the Cistercian monk Thomas Merton. He remains a source of spiritual inspiration and a guide for many people. In his autobiography he wrote: “I came into the world. Free by nature, in the image of God, I was nevertheless the prisoner of my own violence and my own selfishness, in the image of the world into which I was born. That world was the picture of Hell, full of men like myself, loving God, and yet hating him; born to love him, living instead in fear of hopeless self-contradictory hungers”. Merton was above all a man of prayer, a thinker who challenged the certitudes of his time and opened new horizons for souls and for the Church. He was also a man of dialogue, a promoter of peace between peoples and religions.
From this perspective of dialogue, I would like to recognize the efforts made in recent months to help overcome historic differences linked to painful episodes of the past. It is my duty to build bridges and to help all men and women, in any way possible, to do the same. When countries which have been at odds resume the path of dialogue — a dialogue which may have been interrupted for the most legitimate of reasons — new opportunities open up for all. This has required, and requires, courage and daring, which is not the same as irresponsibility. A good political leader is one who, with the interests of all in mind, seizes the moment in a spirit of openness and pragmatism. A good political leader always opts to initiate processes rather than possessing spaces (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 222-223).
Being at the service of dialogue and peace also means being truly determined to minimize and, in the long term, to end the many armed conflicts throughout our world. Here we have to ask ourselves: Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.
Three sons and a daughter of this land, four individuals and four dreams: Lincoln, liberty; Martin Luther King, liberty in plurality and non-exclusion; Dorothy Day, social justice and the rights of persons; and Thomas Merton, the capacity for dialogue and openness to God.
Four representatives of the American people.
I will end my visit to your country in Philadelphia, where I will take part in the World Meeting of Families. It is my wish that throughout my visit the family should be a recurrent theme. How essential the family has been to the building of this country! And how worthy it remains of our support and encouragement! Yet I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without. Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family. I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life.
In particular, I would like to call attention to those family members who are the most vulnerable, the young. For many of them, a future filled with countless possibilities beckons, yet so many others seem disoriented and aimless, trapped in a hopeless maze of violence, abuse and despair. Their problems are our problems. We cannot avoid them. We need to face them together, to talk about them and to seek effective solutions rather than getting bogged down in discussions. At the risk of oversimplifying, we might say that we live in a culture which pressures young people not to start a family, because they lack possibilities for the future. Yet this same culture presents others with so many options that they too are dissuaded from starting a family.
A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to “dream” of full rights for all their brothers and sisters, as Martin Luther King sought to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed, as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton.
In these remarks I have sought to present some of the richness of your cultural heritage, of the spirit of the American people. It is my desire that this spirit continue to develop and grow, so that as many young people as possible can inherit and dwell in a land which has inspired so many people to dream.
God bless America!