Category Archives: Mele

REFLECTION: We are beloved

Nick Meleby Nick Mele

As I write, the United States is angry, anxious, saddened and split over the shooting of a young, unarmed black man by a white policeman several months ago. At the same time, another, younger black child has just been shot because he was at a playground with a toy gun which closely resembled a real weapon. We live in the midst of a stew of fear and violence. News outlets headline stories about scary epidemics, war, mass executions. Social media memes—cleverly chosen images and sayings propagated over the internet—cater to stereotypes, polarization and fear. Popular culture promotes the myth that violence can solve almost any problem and protect individuals as well as nations from any threat. As theologian Walter Wink wrote in Engaging the Powers, “Violence is the ethos of our time. It is the spirituality of the modern world. It has been accorded the status of religion, demanding from its devotees an absolute obedience unto death.” Violence and threat breeds fear, fear of others, fear for our safety, fear that we will not be able to stand against the threats screaming from headlines and television news and talk shows.

stop violenceTo climb out of the morass of violence in which we live requires courage, creativity, effort, persistence, personal integrity and a sense of humor. We must start by honestly examining and healing the violence within ourselves. The first step is cultivating awareness of how we have internalized the violence we experience daily and inflict it on ourselves and others.

The violence we experience is not confined to news headlines or fiery talk show panelists. We also hear threats and violence daily from our families, our friends, our teachers, our supervisors and from our co-workers. The myth that violence solves problems, that a kind of purification or even redemption comes through violent behavior dominates our attitudes and behavior. Over time, we internalize the messages of threat and violence and speak harshly to ourselves. To be sure, often the violent words we hear are not intended to threaten or induce fear, they are simply the consequence of the “ethos of our time” described by Wink. For example, an exasperated parent seeking some support for housecleaning might say to his child, “Pick up your toys!” in a tone of voice that the child hears as an implicit threat to withdraw love or impose punishment. Over time, we impose limits on ourselves in anticipation of others’ disappointment, disapproval or withdrawal. As we do so, we also strive to earn approval and love and to exceed what we think others expect of us….

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REFLECTION: Ambassador Kennedy and the dolphins

Nick Meleby Nick Mele
Pax Christi USA National Council member

When the new U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, tweeted her concern about Japan’s drive hunting of dolphins, that was a good thing. Sure, she upset the Japanese government and the fisher folk who earn money from the trade in dolphin meat but most Americans, particularly those who have seen the documentary film about this annual hunt, sympathize more with the dolphins. Her concern for the humane treatment of animals is praiseworthy, but it is only a first step.

It would be better for Ambassador Kennedy to expand her concern for marine life to the waters of Henoko, Okinawa, where the U.S. military plans to destroy several square kilometers of precious marine habitat important to soft corals and dugong, an endangered mammal similar to our manatees, in order to construct a Marine Air Base to replace the controversial Futenma Base, which the Clinton Administration committed to moving or closing in 1996. Eighteen years later, the best the U.S. can do to honor that pledge is to destroy sea life in another part of Okinawa and disrupt an existing community that has already lived next to a U.S. Munitions Depot since 1959. The new base will be larger than the Futenma air field it will replace, and much larger than the munitions depot, so it is hard to see the change as anything other than part of the U.S. military “pivot” to Asia, a move that the present government of Japan wholeheartedly supports…

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