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Are You Part of the Masquerade?

homemade face maskThe first time I went out into public places wearing a mask in the beginning stages of the COVID-19 outbreak, it was different. I realized that I could not recognize people, nor could they recognize me. What is more important than our individual identities is the identity of the common good. The good of my community and society requires me to filter out as much virus as I can by wearing a mask. It was Thomas Aquinas who wrote, “The common good of many is more godlike than the good of an individual.”

And what about racism? If it is like the air we breathe, then yes, we need filters, masks of humility, masks of justice, masks of respect that will protect us from repeating our long systemic history of oppression towards people of color. Just as there are those who don't wear masks to protect themselves and others from the virus because, in their minds, they feel they are somehow above it all, so too there are those who feel that they are not part of our systemic racism and are somehow above it all. What masquerade are you part of?

ESTHER’s Prison Reform Task Force: Improving Our Criminal Justice System

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Prison Reform is Hard Work

Lisa Hanneman does not give up easily. Reforming our prisons and jails is hard, grinding work. It has demanded years of effort by Lisa and the other members of ESTHER’s Prison Reform Task Force. Lisa became involved with the group in 2016 because, in the County Jail,  her son who was a terminal brain cancer patient, could not get his cancer, anti-nausea and pain medications at the times that the doctor had prescribed. As Lisa worked to improve her son’s treatment, she discovered ESTHER, and it turned out that she was not alone. Other members of the Task Force had encountered the same problem, and the Task Force decided to take action together. You might think that this was a small problem that could be resolved easily, but you would be wrong, as Lisa discovered.

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