Social Justice Candle - June 22, 2014

By Maylan Dunn-Kenny

In the last few months, violence has erupted in the Ukraine, Nigeria, Thailand, and now Iraq, while a nightmare of civil war continues in Syria. Lots of reasons are given for taking up arms, but frequently underneath the rhetoric is an attempt to capture scarce resources, or desperation from lack of access to education and opportunity. For example, in northeastern Nigeria and the surrounding region, people have been displaced and hungry because Lake Chad is dramatically shrinking and the area is rapidly becoming a desert. As a result, Boko Haram has been able to prey on people whose social networks, food supplies, and family connections are already weakened, gaining followers among the young people who see their futures as bleak. Likewise, the ISIS group causing so much problem in Iraq has gained strength by recruiting young men around the world who see themselves cut off from opportunity and alienated from society. Most people just want a chance to live with dignity, be able to support and care for their families, and have some pleasure in life. That’s why peace is hard work. If we want peace, we have to work for justice, environmental health, and social stability. It’s overwhelming when we look at all the violence in the world, but each of us can do one thing this week for justice, the environment, or the strengthening of civil society. As Dorothy Day said, “No one has the right to sit down and feel hopeless. There’s too much work to do.”

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