World justice through mechanisms like the International Criminal Court and the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions

The Radio Show, A World Of Possibilities, had a great show on 04/04/06 entitled "Bringing Tyrants To Justice: War Crimes On Trial"

The United States is one of the few countries which has not agreed to participate in the International Criminal Court because of fear that it would be possibly brought before the court for prosecution for war crimes.

Over 100 other countries have agreed to participate in the International Criminal Court as a way of bringing mass murderers to justice. If a person kills one other person, they will be brought to trial and if found guilty sentenced to possibly life in prison or perhaps even execution if you live in the United States which still uses capital punishment unlike most other countries of the world, but if a war lord or head of state kills thousands or hundreds of thousands of people they may well retire to an ocean side resort like Papa Doc from Haiti or Idi Amin from Uganda or George Bush from the United States.

The program also discusses other ways for justice to be pursued in the face of atrocities such as various truth telling tribunals and the truth and reconciliation commission in South Africa.

This program is well worth listening to. It puts United States history and policy in a world wide context and makes it more understandable why United States foreign relations have deteriorated so badly over the last 6 years.

To listen to the show click on the link below.

Link: "A World of Possibilities" Program Details.

Medgar Evers was assasinated today 43 years ago.

It is important for Americans to remember their history so they can learn from it and not make the same mistakes as they have in the past. In recent history, in my lifetime, there was a great deal of social injustice in the United States where racial discrimination was openly practiced and enforced with lynchings and assasination by whites on our black brothers and sisters. Younger people may not remember this or have read about it in history books. It seems ironic when President Bush justifies an immoral and pre-emptive war in Iraq as a means of bring democracy and freedom to other parts of the world when we haven't had much of it in our own country for segments of our population such as African Americans as just one example. Through struggle some things have changed, but Americans must be vigilant if democracy and freedom are to be an actual experience and not just political platitudes. Medgar Evers was a nonviolent freedom fighter and he was killed by a domestic terrorist, Byron de la Beckwith just 43 years ago today when I was 16 years old.

One of the true heroes of the civil rights movement was Medgar Evers who was killed on this day, June 12, 1963, by Byron de la Beckwith. Beckwith was acquitted a couple of times by all white juries when the good ole boys lied about his whereabouts but Beckwith was finally convicted on February 5, 1994, over thirty years have the murder. Beckwith received a sentence of life in prison and he died in 2001 at the age of 80.

Medgar Evers was the Mississippi Field Secretary for the National Association for the advancement of Colored People, NAACP, and worked for voting rights and to end desegregation. For this work, and attempts to bring about social justice and positive social change, he was killed.

Medgar Evers was a saint among us and is a national hero and should be remembered for his leadership in the struggle for civil rights in the United States of America.

Link: Online NewsHour: Pursuing the Past -- The Medgar Evers Assassination.

The death penalty is a conspiracy to murder in a pre-meditated, calculated, deliberate, and most intentional way

The National Radio Project's program, Making Contact, is a great radio show and on May 3, 2006 they had a show on death penalty abolitionists 25 mile walk in California which is worth listening to for the human interest and for inspiration. Here is the synopsis of the show from the National Radio Project's web site:

Opposition to the death penalty comes in many forms, but few individuals express their opposition as fervently as a group of California religious leaders who walk - rain or shine - 25 miles for every state held execution. This time they walk for Michael Morales and Terry Winchell. Morales was convicted of raping and murdering 18-year-old Winchell in 1983.

On this edition, Making Contact's Sarah Olson takes us on this 25-mile journey on a cool, sunny day on February 20th. The walk begins near the Presidio in San Francisco... crossing over the Golden Gate Bridge... winding through Marin County... and ending up at the gates of San Quentin prison. It's a walk of protest, peace, and compassion.

A couple of the interviews point out that we conspire in pre-meditated cold blooded murder when we allow the government to kill people in our name. And this act, in most cases, is far more calculated, deliberate, and intentional than most of the acts for which the offender is being put to death. When looked at from this point of view, whose moral culpability is greater, the offender being executed, or the people who knowingly conspire and promote organized murder in their name?

There is a great deal of evidence that the death penalty is not a deterent to homicide. In fact, the data seems to show the opposite, that is, in states that have the death penalty and use it, the homicide rate, in general, is higher than in states that do not have the death penalty. How can such observations be explained? It may be as simple as concluding that you don't teach people not to kill by killing. It seems to be the height of hypocrisy.

Work towards the elimination of the death penalty in your state if it has it, and in the nation and around the world.

To go to the National Radio Project's web site, click on the link below.

Link: The Long Walk to Abolish the Death Penalty.

Contextual therapy: a model based on fairness

I am reading "Doing Contextual Therapy" by Peter Goldenthal in which he reviews a model for therapy pioneered by Ivan Boszormenyi-Nagy called Contextual Therapy.
One of the things that has always attracted me to Contexual Therapy is its ethical framework.   This ethical framework is also integrative in that it applies to individuals, couples, families, commnities, nations and globally. Perhaps it is in this ethical perspective that we tie together the clinical and the political. The overrriding question always that a Contextual Therapist would ask is "Is it fair?" This is a facilitative questions for the parties involved in the consultation to answer, not the therapist. Here is what Goldenthal says on pg. 6 of this book,
"...In contextual therapy the superordinate framework is not theoretical, but ethical. The fundamental defining goal is to help people be more considerate in their relationships with those closest to them, give more spontaneously and freely of themselves to those in their families, and state their own needs and wishes in a spirit of open dialogue."
The two main goals of Contextual therapy is to help people acknowledge the positive things other people do and have done by "giving credit" and by acknowledging current and past injustice. This leads to a repair of harm and an acknowledgement of strength and resource that is validating and enhancing.
        At a political level it reminds me of the bumper sticker which reads "If you would have peace, first seek justice."
        Justice or fairness is brought about in the contextual therapy model by accountability not by revenge and retribution. Accountability, in my mind, is the middle way, not violence and domination fueled by revenge, nor laissez-faire permissiveness, letting things go, but calling a spade a spade and taking things by the the horns.
        "Fairness" is always multilaterally defined and requires systemic awareness and a level of consciousness not always available to decision makers or participants. Therapists attempt to facilitate the creation of that higher awareness and consciousness. This, of course, is a collaborative process, not the enlightened master or expert shedding light.
Contextual therapy is also very sensitive to power relations and recognizes that power corrupts in the hands of the unaware and immature. There are plenty of examples of that. Hubris, arrogance, "steadfastness" meaning rigidity or stubborness in the face of new information is always cause for alarm. One of the definitions of addiction is continuing to do the same old thing, hoping for a different result.
         Setting boundaries often is a sign of wanting things to be more fair especially in the face of what the contextual model calls "destructive entitlement" and "invisible loyalties". Goldenthal says on p. 16, "...there is always the risk that such individuals will justify hurting others or be unmoved by the suffering of others based on their own past injuries." When this form of injustice occurs and attempts at accountability fail, the setting and enforcement of boundaries often becomes necessary for the health of both parties.
        I will continue to post some thoughts on Contextual therapy as I continue to read and reflect on Goldenthal's book.

122 people on death row exonerated in U.S. in last 30 years

There have been 122 exonerations of people on death row in the United States since executions were restarted in 1973. The states with the largest number of exonerations is Florida with 21 and Illinois with 18.

There were 12 exonerations in 2003 and 6 in 2005.

It is hard to know for sure how many innocent people have been executed but there are 7 probable cases listed on the Death Penalty Information Center web site.

Click on the link below for more information.

Link: Innocence and the Death Penalty.

In My Country, the film

In My Country, also known as Country Of My Skull, is a British film distributed in 2004 about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings held in South Africa after the downfall of apartheid. It stars Samuel L. Jackson as Langston Whitfield a reporter for the Washington Post, and Juliette Binoche as Anna Malan, a South African journalist and radio reporter.

The film is disappointing because it focuses on a romance between Whitfield and Malan more than the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings which is the real story of import.

I don't recommend this film unless you are totally ignorant of the post apartheid situtation in South Africa in which case you might learn a little something.

Link: Country of My Skull (2004).

Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki - 60 year anniversay, August 6 and August 9

This year marks the 60 year anniverary of the United States bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with Atomic bombs.

It is the only time in human history that atomic bombs, weapons of mass destruction, have been used by human beings against other human beings. It is a sobering thought to realize what our nation, the so called land of the free and home of the brave, is capable of.

The Bushies are good at projecting sadistic feelings of death, destruction, and hate onto bogeypeople, they call "terrorists", but we Americans still get the prize for spreading the greatest feelings of terror, on the most people of the planet, for all time.

Perhaps it is time for us to examine our collective conscience, and if necessary confess our sins, and repent. Are we a big enough people, a justice loving people, a peace loving people to do that?

I don't think we have evolved to that level of collective cosmic consciousness yet, but I hope that my great grandchildren, or my great great grandchildren may get there. The safety and survival of our species depends on it.

Link: Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki Worship resources for Sunday, August 6 or August 9.

Arrested for saving life along the Mexico/US border

It is estimated that during the summer of 2004 231 migrants died in scorching heat as they tried to cross in the desert from Mexico to the United States.

A group which calls itself "No More Deaths" patrols the deserts looking for migrants in distress who may need medical care such as water to offset life threatening dehydration. No More Deaths has invited the Christian Peacemaker Teams to set up a project in Arizona/Sonora, and the Christian Peacemaking Web Site reported that on July 9th, 2005 two volunteers for No More Deaths were arrested by U.S. Border Patrol agents for assisting 3 migrants in serious medical distress.

"On Saturday morning, 9 July, the U.S. Border Patrol arrested two No More Deaths-No Mas Muertes (NMD) volunteers while they were evacuating three migrants in severe medical distress. The NMD volunteers encountered a group of nine migrants that morning who had been lost in the desert for several days. The volunteers provided food and water to the group, washed their feet and cared for their blisters. Three of the nine reported vomiting and diarrhea, and one reported blood in the stool-- conditions that are symptomatic of life threatening dehydration. After consultation with NMD medical personnel and legal counsel, the volunteers made the decision to evacuate the three most in physical distress. The Border Patrol arrested the two volunteers and three migrants en route to medical treatment in Tucson."

It is interesting how people who are working for peace and justice get arrested while those who promote hate, war, and death are regarded as national heroes. Instead of Christians putting yellow ribbons on their vehicles which say "support the troops" I wonder why we see so few Christians with "support Christian Peacemakers" on their vehicles.

Perhaps gentle reader you will take some small steps to supporting peace in the world by getting in the way of "system" to help the subjugated and oppressed.
Link: Christian Peacemaker Teams: committed to reducing violence by "Getting in the way.".

Levity, the film

Levity Levity is about Manual Jordan's (Billy Bob Thornton) life after he gets out of prison after 23 years. Manual, as a teenager, killed Abner Easley, a convience store clerk, in a hold up. The movie continually asks the question "Is there any redemption after such an act?" Manual tends to think not, but he is willing to try to redeem himself and in the process runs into some interesting characters such as Miles Evans (Morgan Freeman) a phoney store front preacher, Adele Easley (Holly Hunter), Abner's sister, and Sofia Mellinger (Kirsten Dunst) a spoiled young woman who is the daughter of an over the hill singer.

This movie doesn't have much of a plot and has no clear answers. It does not tie things up in the end in any neat packages. It is more a splice of life, a stream of consciousness, a study in the suffering of life which begs for some explanation so we can make some meaning out of it.

Is there redemption after tragic sin? Is absolution available? Maybe yes, maybe no. Watch the movie and you decide.

I recommend this film.

Link: Levity (2003).

Death Rates Very High Among Troubled Youth

Reuters reported on June 6, 2005 on a study in the June, 2005 issue of the journal, Pediatrics, which found that death rates among troubled youth are 4 time higher than kids in the general population.

"Young people in serious trouble with the law are four times more likely to die violent deaths before reaching adulthood than their peers -- and eight times more likely if they are girls, the results of a study published on Monday suggest.

"We need to get away from the stereotype that delinquent youth are just bad kids. They are a group of young people who are especially vulnerable to early and violent deaths," said Dr. Linda Teplin, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University who led the study.

Published in the June issue of Pediatrics, the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the study was described as the most comprehensive look at the subject in 60 years.

For more than eight years the researchers tracked 1,829 youngsters between 10 and 18 who were held at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center in Chicago. More than half were black, nearly one third Hispanic and the rest mostly white.

As of March 2004, sixty-five had died between the age of 15 and 24, nearly all of them violently. Murders usually involving guns accounted for 90 percent of the deaths, while encounters with police claimed another 5 percent. Other causes of death included suicide and automobile accidents.

The overall death rate was four times higher than that for youngsters of the same age range in the general population and eight times higher among the 657 girls in the study."

I don't know what can be done about this. These kids are out of control of their parents and are caught up in "the system" which, short of incarceration, doesn't do a good job of controling them either. It certainly is not a mental health issue in the sense that these kids are uncooperative and highly unlikely to engage in traditional outpatient mental health care.

I think the answer lies more in the direction of youth courts where youth hold youths accountable within a restorative justice framework wherein youth must take responsibility for the harm they have caused because of their crime, make restitution, do community service, write letters of apology, and face the victims of their crimes. I also think programs like job corps, the old CETA work programs, and perhaps instituting a National Service corps would be helpful.

"It is ironic, she(Dr. Linda Teplin) said, that the 52 children who died in school shootings in America between 1990 and 2000 got far more attention than the far greater number of homicides involving inner city youth.

"In New York City alone there were 840 homicides of kids 14 to 17 during the same (1990-2000) time period," she said."

Once again, the media, "if it bleeds it leads", has skewed public perception in the wrong direction. The bigger tragedy is not the school shootings in the middle class suburban schools like Columbine and Paducah although they are terrible in and of themselves, but the number of faceless, minority, poor urban kids who are killing each other and themselves day in an day out on the streets of our large cities.

Link: MedlinePlus: Death Rates Very High Among Troubled Youth - Study.