#Election2016 ends, at last!

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Finally, the toxic and awful #Election2016 comes to a merciful end.  Like a huge number of Americans, I find both @HillaryClinton and @realDonaldTrump to be ill suited for the presidency.   According to most polls, the majority of Americans would prefer to have another option for the nation’s highest office – just about any other option!  Yet, we are stuck with these two major party candidates and one of them will become the president on January 20, 2017.   Continue reading

Progress Against Human Trafficking and Slavery 

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was part of a @CatholicRelief delegation that met with staff members of the U.S. Senators and Representatives to discuss H.R. 3226/S. 1968, which is the Business Supply Chain Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act. This pending legislation requires publicly traded companies with revenues over $100 million to include in their SEC reporting statements that indicate they are working to ensure their supply chain is free from human trafficking and slavery.  Not all companies wait until legislation is passed to take right and moral actions.  One such company is Patagonia.  Watch the video to better understand the problem, a bit about Fair Trade and the good work Patagonia is doing.  If you don’t have 12 minutes, watch the short 2 minute version here: patagonia – Fair and Ethical Trade.

#CCGPoverty #FairTrade #CatholicRelief #EndTraffick

 

 

 

Advocacy: A Day on Capitol Hill


Yesterday I was part of a delegation of Catholic Relief Services Global Fellows who went to Capitol Hill to meet with legislative staff members of our Senators and Representatives.  Our purpose was to advocate on behalf of two groups of people that are all too often voiceless in world society; those who are victims of human trafficking and slavery and refugees.

Senator Johnny Isakson’s Office: (L to R) Deacon Fred Toca, Deacon Steve Swope, Legislative Correspondent Allie White, Kathy Hampton, Deacon Bill Hampton, Fr. Vic Galier
We discussed the pending legislation H.R. 3226/S. 1968, which is the Business Supply Chain Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act.  This act would be another important step toward ending trafficking and enslavement around the world.  Currently there are approximately 30 million slaves in the world, many are women and children who are held in the sex trade and many are men in forced labor.  The act would require all publicly traded companies with revenues of $100 million or more to include in their annual report a statement that tells what efforts they have made to ensure their goods and services have not been produced by people who are enslaved.  The legislation is important because it again affirms the inherent dignity of each human and the revulsion we all have for human trafficking and slavery.  In addition, businesses will benefit when they are assured their competitors do not have an unfair and immoral advantage over them due to the cost differential that the use of slaves creates.

All people of good faith can let their voices be heard on this topic.  To send a note to your senators and representative you can go to this website and complete the form: Support H.R. 3226/S.1968.  It only takes a minute and can have a huge impact.

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Senator David Perdue’s Office: (L to R) Fr. Vic Galier, Deacon Bill Hampton, Kim Mazyck,  Kathy Hampton, Katie McCabe Chaudoin – Legislative Correspondent, Deacon Fred Toca, Deacon Steve Swope
In each office we also encouraged support for additional funding for humanitarian aid in the federal budget for the current fiscal year.  Right now the humanitarian aid funding is .014% of the Federal Budget – that is just over  1/100th of one percent.  It is that small in the face of the largest refugee crisis since World War II.  While acknowledging that every country has a right to vet those who wish to migrate we must also admit that we have a moral imperative to aid those fleeing war and persecution by supporting refugees where they presently reside, during their journey and within our own borders should they be admitted.  Increasing funding to provide all refugees the basic necessities of life like food, shelter, clothing and education for children is not optional for anyone who claims to be Christian or American.  It is a moral requirement that we cannot justify ignoring.

As a Georgian, I am proud to say that we received a warm welcome in all three offices and the promise of additional study and consideration of the pending legislation.  I encourage each reader to take the time to contact your Congressional delegation and voice your support for both of these initiatives. Based on our meetings, I can assure you if you are a Georgian, your voice will be heard.  Peace!

 

 

Life in Aleppo 

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Aleppo (Getty Images)

Life in Aleppo, especially eastern Aleppo has deteriorated  to a level that is almost beyond belief.  (Drone view of Aleppo). Many have fled out of fear for their lives, many have died and many are trapped. For those trapped, life is a daily effort to avoid explosions and starvation.  One citizen of Aleppo who has remained tells his story.  This story is informative and well worth read in order to better understand the situation in Aleppo and how one man and his wife are trying to stay in the country that they love.  We live in Aleppo. Here is how we survive.

A Six-Year Old’s Compassion

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Six-year old Alex

Deep within each of us is a moral compass. We can look at that compass and follow it or not; that is called free will.  It is interesting how instinctive and easy it is for children to follow the moral direction it points with compassion and heartfelt sympathy for others.  A six-year old New York boy named Alex saw the picture of little Omran Daqneesh in the back of an ambulance in Aleppo, Syria and was moved with compassion.  He was so moved that he wrote a letter to President Obama asking the President to go get Omran and bring him to the U.S. so that Alex’s family  “will give him a family and he will be our brother.”  The moving story of Alex’s plea can be found here: Alex’s Letter to the President.

Deep within each of us is a moral compass.  Like Alex, we each should follow it; it will help us navigate to a better world.

An Absence

Crater Lake National Park – July 24, 2016

Recently I was asked by a friend via email if I had decided to stop posting to this blog.  It was a reasonable question because my most recent post was on July 21st and today is August 29th.  The answer to the question is no; I do plan to continue posting to this blog.  My absence from posting stories about the refugee crisis, odd things that strike me as funny, strange or just interesting and other ruminations can be easily explained.

On July 20th I received a telephone call from Providence Hospital in Medford, Oregon with the news that my brother Bryan had been admitted and was in critical condition in the ICU.    I flew to Medford on July 21st and was with my brother when he passed away in the early morning hours of July 23rd.  Bryan had a terminal illness (IPF) but his health had taken a sudden and final turn for the worse the week before. Continue reading

Stark Choice in Syria – Become Refugees or Risk Injury and Death

Wounded 5-year-old Omran Daqneesh sits alone in the back of the ambulance after he was injured during airstrikes targeting Aleppo, Syria, on Wednesday, August 21, 2016 (Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

In January of this year I visited Greece and Serbia with a delegation from @CatholicRelief to better understand the #RefugeeCrisis in the Middle East and Europe and to witness the humanitarian relief being provided.  While there we had the opportunity to meet many refugees and aid workers.  In this blog, I have reported stories of just some of the people that we encountered.   Continue reading