Friday, October 30, 2009

Waiting For Leslie

I am all packed and ready to leave for Branson. I am just waiting for Leslie to pick me up.

I got home late last night. After her doctor's appointment, Juanita wanted to eat at Garfield's. I had eaten a late lunch and wasn't particularly hungry but she seldom gets out of town so I wanted to humor her. I had one of their small cranberry walnut salads. She had a child's hamburger and french fries.

When I got home, I packed.

Scott called at bedtime and had had another of his catastrophes. His girl friend that he had finally decided on, broke up with him. He was crushed. Then Ashley called and had been fired from her job. She is in college and that is a major problem. To try to find a job in today's market may be impossible. On top of that, there was money missing from her cash drawer at work and the police were coming out this morning to interview her about that. She had two unpaid traffic tickets and they will surely get her for those. She said they had been very busy at work and she had left her cash drawer unlocked in the rush. Someone just helped themselves. But she is suffering the consequences. With Ashley, it's just one thing after another. Drama!

So it will be good to be with someone whose life is relatively calm.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Church's Enduring Principles

I found it interesting that the series on the enduring principles in our church periodical The Herald began with “The Worth of All Persons”. I eagerly read the Up Front article by President Veazey to see what new insights he might have to say about this very important subject. He spoke of being asked to speak or take part in discussions on very sensitive subjects such as conditions of membership and human sexuality.

He counseled members to use all the resources at their disposal to deal with these issues that come before the church. We are challenged, for example, to use scriptural interpretation, tradition, continuing revelation, personal experience, reason, and common consent to deal with these sensitive issues.

On such an important issue as determining direction in the church, I looked to him as a major part of the leadership team to provide some firmer direction in preparation for a very interesting World Conference that will address at least these two very important issues. Unfortunately that didn’t happen. At least it was done so very carefully and tactfully that most readers would have overlooked it. Direction from the early 1980s from the Standing High Council seems outdated and unauthoritative. The issue was not dealt with in conference nor by insight from the presidency…it was referred.. To most members, the SHC is only an advisory committee.

The Worth of All Persons is perhaps the most important subject coming before this conference. Conditions of Membership is important but deals primarily with logistics. . The Worth of All Persons, on the other hand, involves how we treat persons…real live persons with feelings, human rights, and, yes, with callings….callings that are being ignored at this point in our history.

I would hope the First Presidency would be exploring the cultural differences in the times our scriptures were written, exploring why the scriptures that are currently so misused to subjugate our gay and lesbian members and deny not only their giftedness but also their human rights as laid out by various state’s laws.

This issue is not being addressed at all. There are cultural reasons why Paul addresses the subject and there are cultural reasons why the Holiness Code addresses it. These need to be explained. Because much of our membership has no interest in exploring these cultural reasons for themselves, the issue needs to be addressed by the First Presidency in preparation for the conference. Many of our members have their minds made up in advance and do not want to be concerned with doing research.

It seems hollow indeed to say that the church respects the worth of all persons. It is especially so in light of what these gay members must endure while they wait for the culture to catch up with their needs.

I love the church and would hope that it would always be in the forefront of exploring and leading other denominations in dealing with these issues instead of always following behind the others.

I, personally, know several dozen persons who are just waiting to see what the church will do with this issue before deciding what path they will take. Several have not waited and in frustration, have already left for the UCC, a church with a more forward looking theology.

Marketing Day

I'm getting ready to leave tomorrow for Branson. We cleaned house this morning and then went to the market and bought nearly $50 worth of groceries. Leslie is to pick me up in the morning at 9:00. We will meet Sheri at Joplin at 11:00 and go on from there.

It will be a three day weekend. Should be lots of fun. It's supposed to storm this afternoon but be nice tomorrow and the weekend.

Scott had a date with Connie last night and they had a wonderful time. He thinks he has found THE woman. I hope so. He is very tired of dating.

Keith is biding his time until he finds out if he's going to Afghanistan this winter for three years.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Yesterday and Today

Yesterday we had the carpet cleaned at the church and it looks wonderful! Afterward, we went to Independence and took our daughter to lunch. Then we came home and read most of the afternoon. I did do a load of laundry. Last evening we watched Nova and Frontline on PBS.

This morning I went back to Independence to get my hair done and take Juanita to breakfast. She is doing much better after her fall last week. I will go back up there tomorrow and take her to the doctor in Bartlesville. She is having a problem with her ears and wants a specialist to check them over. Tomorrow evening Bob has his PINCH meeting and then the next morning, I leave with Leslie to go to Branson. I am really looking forward to that.

After our trip, there will be no more trips until April when I go to World Conference. I hope I can find the cash for that. We are running low on cash and we will owe for Bob's surgery. It did turn out to be surgery. They will call Friday for an appointment with Dr. Holland in Bartlesville. It will probably be the middle of November.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Doctor's Visit

Bob and I went to Bartlesville this morning to see his dermatologist, Dr. Eslicker. He had a place on his neck which was not healing after the doctor froze it a couple of months ago. It looked like a squamous cell carcinoma to me and I encouraged him to get an appointment. Finally, while I was gone to Independence over the weekend to the Peace Colloquy, he did. The doctor took a look at it and concurred with my diagnosis. He biopsied it and said he would call us when he got the biopsy back and Bob would either take radiation or have a surgery for it. We will know in a day or so. I reminded him that Dr. Powell, the radiologist in Coffeyville's hospital, had told Bob some time ago that radiation was not the treatment of choice for squamous cell carcinoma. We will see.

It has been two and a half years since Bob has had a squamous cell carcinoma. He has had seven altogether and two melanoma. We had hoped this rash of skin cancer was over. Evidently not. I just hope it will heal quickly after treatment. That wears Bob down pretty quickly.

The Speech of Dr. Halima Bashir

2009 Peace Award Address
Dr. Halima Bashir

Firstly, I’d like to thank all those involved in giving me this Award, and for the invitation to America to receive it. I’d like to thank those who proposed and voted for me, and those of you who helped organize today’s ceremony.

For me, for a young woman from a very isolated part of the world like Darfur, to have come here today to receive an award of such importance is a great journey. I am humbled and honored and so very grateful for this recognition, and for the attention it may draw to the ongoing conflict in Darfur.

There are many crises in the world today: wars, starvation, natural disasters like tsunamis and flooding. But my own life is testimony to the one conflict that is causing more death and suffering than any other today, but which seems to go so unnoticed and unreported – Darfur.

After the Rwanda genocide the world pledged that ‘never again’ would it stand by as innocents were killed in the hundreds of thousands. Sadly, for too long the world did just that in Darfur. No one knows how many have been killed – but the numbers run into the hundreds of thousands victims. Men, women and children. Unarmed. Innocent. Defenseless.

Each death is an individual – each of those people a human being with hopes and fears and dreams just like my own. And some four million people have been driven from our homeland, Darfur, and are forced to live in refugee camps, which are places of a hopeless frustration and despair. Even there, even today, some six years after the genocide by attrition began, they are still not safe or secure. Those camps are attacked; women are raped; children are kidnapped – and so the world community still cannot exert itself to protect the people of Darfur.

The world pledged never again, but in Darfur that pledge has proved hollow.

Today, there is a peacekeeping force on the ground in Darfur. However, the UNAMID force is woefully undermanned and under-equipped, and ill-prepared to defend the huge numbers of vulnerable civilians that it is tasked to protect. Peacekeepers have been killed by Sudan government forces, their allied militias like the murderous Janjaweed, and by lawless rebel groups. The UMANID force is trying to do a job for which it is hopelessly ill-suited, with a woeful lack of support from developed nations.

In short, for the millions of refugees the prospect of going home – because, remember, for all of us Darfur is our home – is a distant dream. Our land is there. Our burned out villages are there, awaiting us to return and rebuild them. Our orchards are there, our forests for gathering firewood, and the graveyards of our ancestors – yet there is no security to allow us to go home. Every single one of those people in the refugee camps just wants to go home to live in peace and security and with dignity, and to rebuild their lives.

We know that the world turned its face away when it could have made that phrase ‘never again’ really mean something for the people of Darfur. We are angry and feel let down, but we have accepted that failure. But now we ask that we be given the peace and security simply to allow us to return to our homes. If the world could not guarantee ‘never again’ in Darfur, will it not find the resources and capacity and the collective will to guarantee four million Darfuris the right to go home?

We are patient people, but we know that time is running out. As our people languish in refugee camps, we know that the Khartoum regime is resettling its allies – the tribes that made us the murderous Janjaweed militias; the devil horsemen – on our most fertile land and in our most well-watered villages. The longer this continues, the less chance we have of ever returning home – for our land will be occupied by those who killed out fathers and raped our children before our very eyes.

The world failed to guarantee ‘never again’, but can it not at least guarantee us a homeland to return to?

I saw the waves of devil horsemen riding into my village. I heard their cries as they taunted us, calling us ‘black dogs and slaves’. I heard them scream out that they would kill us, kill us all. I fled, but my father stayed to fight, and he was killed, as were so many of the brave men in my village. They faced Kalashnikov assault rifles and the Khartoum regime’s helicopter gunships with little more than daggers and spears, and the odd, ancient hunting rifle. They stayed to buy us women and children the time to escape, so that we might live another day.

Yet still we languish in the refugee camps and cannot return to our homes.

As a trained medical doctor, I treated the victims of the child rapes. Imaging it. Imagine a country where grown men and leaders draw up a policy of child rape as a weapon of waging war. This is what happened in my country. The world failed to stop the horror, and still the refugee camps are not secure. I’ve seen the pictures the children as young as five years old draw today of the horror, the memories and the trauma burned deep into their minds. I’ve heard their tears and their stories, and their screams at night as they dream the darkest of nightmares. The least those children deserve is to be allowed home – home so their mothers and sisters can rebuild their lives in a loving peaceful family.

And the least every Darfuri deserves is justice. The International Criminal Court has indicted the President of Sudan, and others, for war crimes in Darfur. The move has been criticized by some as inflaming the conflict in Darfur, but there was little that could make it worse for us, for the survivors. And like all victims of an unspeakable horror – a genocide by rape, mass murder and starvation – we crave justice and a reckoning. We dream of the day that the masterminds of the horror face punishment for their crimes. For us, for we Darfuri victims, there can be no real homecoming, or closure, without such justice being done.

Imagine if a force of gunmen rode into your village, and gunned down the inhabitants simply because their skin color was different from your own. Imagine if they killed your father and raped your children, and left your home a scorched and burning ruin. And imagine if their hatred and their blind prejudice forced you to flee from your own land – the land where you family and your ancestors had lived for centuries. Imagine then how you would feel. That is how I feel. It is how every Darfuri woman and child feels. It is the feeling of the entire people of Darfur.

The world failed to deliver on ‘never again’. All we now ask for is the right to go home, in peace and freedom, and for justice to be done.

Is it too much to ask? I hope not. Every day I pray and I dream that we are given these two things.

I’m so grateful for this award, and to be given the chance and the platform to speak. I’m just a voice for the millions of others; I’m speaking because they cannot speak, locked away in the refugee camps as they are.

Last year I wrote a book telling my life story, called Tears of the Desert. When the British journalist approached me and suggested I speak out, I wondered who might be interested? My story was like the hundreds of thousands of other Darfuri women who had suffered unspeakable war crimes. Who would be interested? What difference would one voice, one story, one cry in the darkness make? Yet the reaction to me telling my story in that book proved to me what an enormous difference one voice can make.

I hope today my one voice, my one cry, my one small story can make a difference for all the people of Darfur.

Thank you.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I'm Back!

I'm back from the Peace Colloquy! It was a great experience. My only disappointment was that I could not hear the Peace Award recipient. She wore a heavy veil to protect family that still lives in Darfur. She donated her $20,000 award to a foundation that helps victims and their families in Darfur. She also received an original sculpture.

Here is a link to the website that tells her story.

The theme of the 2009 Peace Colloquy was Justice for Women, Dignity for All, with keynotes and workshops focusing on women’s issues as experienced all over the world. The event was held in the Community of Christ Temple, Independence, Missouri, USA.

The 2009 Community of Christ International Peace Award was presented during the Peace Colloquy to Dr. Halima Bashir, advocate for peace in Darfur.

She is a doctor in Darfur who treated both sides of the conflict. When she objected to the rape of young girls by the government's troups, she was kidnapped and for a week was gang raped herself. She escaped and got away to England where she continues to work for pressure from the US and the UN to stop the violence in Darfur.

The Community of Christ International Peace Award has been given annually (except for 1996) since 1993 and ranks high in the lists of non-governmental international and USA peace awards. It includes a $20,000 to $30,000 grant (sponsored by Bank of America) to be donated to the charitable peace, justice, or environmental organization of the recipient’s choice. Honorees also receive a sculpture created by Wyoming artist Gail Sundell. Each is made slightly different to honor the unique peacemaking contribution of the recipient.

Recipients represent diversity in terms of ethnicity, gender, and faith. The Community of Christ International Peace Award honor roll includes Jane Goodall, Dolores Huerta, James Lawson, Jean Vanier, Scott Peck and Ela Gandhi.

You'll have to copy and paste the link. I used the link tool but it did not show up when I published the post...for some reason.