Skip to main content

Is A world of Plenty: Sci-Fi, God's Kingdom or Reality?

Posted in

 This was contributed by Joyce Frohn.

     Sometimes my two worlds, as a science fiction writer and political activist, run into each other. Or deal with the same problem. Right now, one of those is these is the idea of hope for the future. It's easy to think of things going wrong. In writing that's called, Dystopia. It's fairly easy to think of those ideas. But both the Christian idea of "The Beloved Community" and writing Utopian fiction requires thinking of things getting better in the world where we really live. Can we imagine that? We need to.

      What if the food pantry closed, not because there were no volunteers but because there were no people that needed it? What if all the charities that send clothes and food and medical supplies overseas weren't needed? What if we didn't need to advocate for fair trade because the people making the clothes could easily find out how much they were sold for? What if instead of just trying to ensure equal access to limited resources we could have all the resources we needed? What would it look like if everyone had access to medical care and education? What would that world look like?

       Our world is set up on the idea of scarcity. Whether it's people trying to make sure they have a monopoly on technology or their children to get to go to a better school or even that antique store that tells us that these items might be the only Pairpoint lamp or piece of artwork we'll ever see. This idea of scarcity is at the root of much of the world's evils. If we see that resources are few, we want those for our family, tribe or race. Soon we hate those we pushed aside. We fear that they will do to us what we have done to them.

      There is one secret that breaks our world of scarcity apart. There is enough. Enough food, enough clothes, enough medicine. Maybe there always has been enough. We just have to live as though there is enough. What does that look like? Maybe it's the beloved community. Maybe it's Utopia. But the best way to get there is to live as though we are already there.

        If there is plenty, we can ask ourselves, do I need that tool, dress, clock? After all, if I need it, I can always get it later. Do I need a lawnmower or could I burrow it from a friend? One less thing to clutter up a garage. We need to figure out what we really need to own if we don't have to worry about, "What if I need it later?"

        Ask yourself are you living the way you want to live? Or the way you think you have to live? The World is waiting for your answer.

 

Open Letter to Appleton Common Council

It was a shocking vote at last week’s Common Council meeting (4/21/21), when the Council sent back to committee the resolution addressing the increase in xenophobic, anti-Asian attacks in our country and the City of Appleton. After the courageous speaking out, especially by elders and then others, of the Hmong community – sharing their gut-wrenching experiences of fear after threats and harassment, the vote was in the hands of those who listened but did not hear.

A need that we all have when dealing with racism is to get out of our heads and into our hearts and the hearts of others. It is a letting-go experience. We need to respect the authors of the resolution that reflected the study, research, and words exposing the unsettling truths that give rise to fear in the Asian community. And yet some members of the Council offered intellectualizations to justify their opposition rather than to hear the trauma of the Asian community and to undestand the reasons why. Based on comments, tears and overall impressions given by members of the Hmong community after the meeting, they received the message that the Council would not support them in their fears.

Who are we to say that they need to ask for our support in a better way? Compassion, compassion, compassion.

—Gary Crevier, ESTHER President

Until How Long?

Almost lost in the news of the gut-wrenching testimonies in the death of George Floyd is the equally horrific increase by 150% in the attacks and killings within our beloved Asian community in the past year. The killings of Asian women in Atlanta and the brutal attack on an elderly Asian woman on the streets of New York are only recent examples of this ongoing tragedy in our midst. Members of the Asian community in the Fox Cities are being harrassed as well.

And then there is the plight of the high percentage of missing and/or murdered indigenous women. Mark Charles, indigenous author of Unsettling Truths, adapted a diagnosis from psychologist Rachel McNair, who says that some perpetrators of crime suffer from Perpetration-Induced Traumatic Stess (PITS). Charles suggests that we as a country suffer from the same trauma, a subconscious guilt after four-hundred years of genocide and slavery, and don’t even realize it.

How long will it take for us to face our denial as a nation? Growth in this consciousness within our community will occur when we are willing to face reality and see ourselves as part of our national systemic racism. We as members of ESTHER encourage all of us to realize that we can no longer consider ourselves to be “innocent bystanders” to what is happening in America today. Last week, Ron, a young South Korean, asked that we “be self-aware, speak up, ask questions, be genuine and have respect for everyone.”

Gary Crevier
ESTHER President

Why Social Justice Work?

Posted in

ESTHER BlogThe question was asked of me, “Why do I involve myself doing justice work?” I think the beginning of my addressing systemic causes of injustices began when I found ESTHER – or was it ESTHER finding me? Even before ESTHER, values that formed me within led to my belief that my dignity can never be fully realized until the dignity of all including creation is respected and honored as well. Where did that come from? I wonder if it was not so much anything that I was taught but rather something that I caught.

What is Our Duty in the Face of the Pandemic?

Posted in

Contributed by Joyce Frohn

The Pandemic has Brought Face to Face with Things We Were Not Used To

It has been a year since the Pandemic hit the US. We have all missed birthdays and holidays. Many have lost loved ones and friends. We have stared at fear, loneliness, and pain. We have learned Zoom, begged for shots and tried to wrap our brains around a terror that we thought was dead. Children have started school on computers, teens have graduated from high school on video, a thousand milestones small and large have come and gone. Some of us have battled loneliness and others have had suddenly crowded houses. We have tried to work from home while trying to remember high school geometry or desperately tried to support a family with less pay. Maybe we missed a long-awaited family trip or a just a quiet walk through a museum. Or a funeral of those we loved.

We have had many emotions that we are not used to. We have anger that those we trusted have betrayed us; that strangers would rather brag about their rights than save other people. That we have been lied to. We have sorrow at levels our modern world is not used to. We had thought that there were not going to be any consequences, no penalties. We declared we had conquered nature. Hopefully we have learned a lesson.

What Lesson Must We Learn?

Community and ESTHER Connections

Contributed by Kathy Weinhold

When I initially joined Esther it was at the recommendation of someone who attended my church. My initial interest was in the prison justice reform group, and I eventually became aware of the Oshkosh ESTHER group. As I live in Oshkosh, I decided to check it out, and I’m so glad I did!

At the first Oshkosh ESTHER group meeting I attended I was warmly welcomed. Compared to the large prison reform group, this smaller-sized group appealed to me. Each person in the group was able to share their ideas, comments and concerns all along the way in the process of working through issues.  At subsequent meetings I found it’s always that way.  The folks recognize that everyone brings something different to the table.  We all know it’s often who you know, and among them they have great connections.  Everyone’s input is greatly encouraged.

ESTHER Applauds Governor’s Budget for Prison Reform

Contributed by Bill Van Lopik.

On February 14, Governor Evers released his proposed state budget for the next two years. This biennium budget actually contains significant funding increases for prison reform programs that ESTHER and WISDOM have been fighting for over the years. We know that the Joint Finance Committee can amend the budget and make changes, but we are pleased with what we see so far. We also know that on average across the nation that 85% of what a governor proposes actually stays in the budget.

What we are pleased about:

  • An expansion of the Earned Release Program, which allows inmates early release from prison when they complete assigned programming. This could potentially allow 900-1000 individuals to be released early.
  • An increase in funding of almost $8 million in the Transitional Jobs Program over the next 2 years. This program provides employment opportunities for recently released individuals so they can begin developing their employment portfolio and integrate back into the community.
  • An increase from $7 million to $15 million to fund Treatment and Diversion programs to help keep people out of jails and prisons and have them enrolled in community-based treatment programs.
  • An expansion of ATR (Alternatives to Revocations) programs that are designed to not send people back to prison (a revocation) without committing a new crime. Another way of “decarcerating” our prison system.

Madison Action Day

Madison Action Day is coming up on April 15 and will be the perfect time to let your legislators know that we want the funding for these programs to remain in the state budget.

 

New Book: A Spirituality for Doing Justice

WISDOM

David Liners, WISDOM organizer, recommends this new book on the spirituality of community organizing.

Rev. Dennis Jacobsen, one of the founders of MICAH and WISDOM, and long-time pastor of Incarnation Lutheran Church in Milwaukee, has written a wonderful new book, called A Spirituality for Doing Justice: Reflections for Congregation-based Organizers (Fortress Press, 2021). In just a few pages, Dennis Jacobsen draws us into a world of graceful art, of brutal inner-city realities and the Children of God who battle them, of majestic nature, of family, Church, politics, and the inscrutable God who calls us deeper into mystery through all of it. Jacobsen enters each of these realms with humility and a sense of awe, and he models a deep spirituality that is transcendent, incarnational, and deeply authentic.

The book is beautifully written, and immensely practical for those of us who are striving to nurture a “spirituality for doing justice.”

The book can be ordered from your favorite bookstore. Or, you can order it on-line from Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Better World Books, ThriftBooks, AbeBooks, etc.

Sponsor Spotlight: Fox Cities Errands and More LLC

By Jill Smith

Fox Cities Errands and Property ManagementAlvin and Amanda Brown are the husband-and-wife proprietors of Fox Cities Errands and More LLC, a local business serving homeowners of the Fox Valley. Together, Alvin and Amanda help people maintain their homes by offering gutter cleaning, landscaping, snow removal, errands, and a variety of other services.

Their business, which was established in 2018, was created because of a need that Amanda realized when she worked in an assisted-living facility. She heard many stories from residents who were no longer able to live in their homes because they could no longer get themselves to the store or keep up with the house maintenance.

Amanda says that Alvin does all the talking and all the labor. He says, “Our business is going awesome. We never felt the hit during the start of the pandemic like other companies [did]. Amanda saw the need. She told me that maybe we can help these people stay in their homes. This is how the business started. After that, we noticed that people needed other things done, so we expanded.”

ESTHER Yearbook Cover: The Rest of the Story

Roger Kanitz, whose painting “Loving Hearts Soar” graces the cover of ESTHER’s 2021 Yearbook, shares this explanation of how the image came to be.

Loving Hearts SoarLast fall, ESTHER board member and banquet committee member Sara Companik approached me about developing a painting for the cover of ESTHER’s 2021 Year Book. Her challenge for me was to create an image to support the selected theme of “Voices for Justice”.

This proved to be a great challenge! I found it hard to convey in a single image all of the great work ESTHER does to promote justice in our community. Symbolically I wanted to interweave the image with the ESTHER logo itself. The final result is entitled “Loving Hearts Soar.”

Syndicate content