Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Justice, Awareness and Memory

I was struck by the article in the Daily Progress yesterday on Charlottesville City Council's consideration of making an apology for it's former participation in the Massive Resistance pro-segregation movement 50 years ago.

This gesture has meaning. It's a position on justice. It says, "Charlottesville is a different city than it was 50 years ago. We find the actions and attitudes of the past reprehensible, and we are committed to a higher standard of justice." It's commendable.

Now, an advantage of writing about yesterday's news is seeing all the comments made by online readers. Calumny and praise in more or less equal measure. Standard stuff for the internet, I suppose. But the strong feelings elicited by this topic - recognition of past errors - reinforces my belief that the dialogue on justice must continue - respectfully, plainly, strongly.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Great News! Charlottesville Free Clinic Expansion Completed

The Charlottesville Free Clinic, which was a key player in the 2008 IMPACT issue of expanded dental care for the uninsured and under-insured, has moved into its expanded space. This is excellent news for ALL those earning between $10,000/year (for individuals) and $20,000 (for a family of four) in need of health care.

It's really great to see that we're making such progress in this important area. There's still much we can do at a national level (no further comment necessary), but for folks in Charlottesville and Albemarle County (and beyond!), this is significant.

This quote really struck me:
“[Patients] were delaying care because they couldn’t afford it and they were suffering from it. The response from local [medical personnel] in setting up the clinic and in volunteering was amazing,” said Dr. Mohan Nadkarni, whom clinic officials credit as the clinic’s founding father. “It’s really taken off, but I have mixed feelings about it. I wish it didn’t have to be here. We had no idea in 1992 that 15,000 people would be served. We thought it would be a short-term solution.”
Access to health care really is a justice issue - and I like to think we are making progress. And it's good to remember that there is still much to do:

To attain the promises of God, we need above all continuous exercise in the virtues; for however firm one’s commitment to some good may be, if it is not renewed daily, it quickly dies out.

John Trithemius
from the 'Rule', quoted in Essential Monastic Wisdom: Writings on the Contemplative Life by Hugh Feiss.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

IMPACT Listening Process for 2009/2010

The listening process for the 2010 Nehemiah Action has begun. Each congregation, through a series of house meetings, gathers input to identify a issue of justice in our community which we believe would be well served by the IMPACT method of seeking a commitment from critical stakeholders on that issue. In addition, there's time to discuss IMPACT's evolving process, successes, and opportunities for development.

This year, we're trying something new. In addition to the congregational meetings, we'll also hold interfaith meetings, where different faith communities can share ideas and gain insight into the problems affecting different populations. St. Paul's has been teamed with Evergreen Ministries and Holy Comforter Catholic Church.

I am excited about this process - introspection, action, progress, justice. The interfaith side is a welcome addition. It reinforces the connection between the individual and their faith community, the connection between all faith communities united for justice, and the connection between all of us as residents of Charlottesville and Albemarle County.

Here's a very nice quote:

Maybe I’m not making big changes in the world, but if I have somehow helped or encouraged somebody along the journey then I’ve done what I’m called to do.

- Sister Thea Bowman
African-American Franciscan (1937-1990)