Perversely, what gives me optimism we might survive as a species is as shitty as we are we haven't killed each other by now.Sometimes I think having hope or optimism is itself what is perverse, but be that as it may, it is this sort of thing that keeps my candle in the rain lit:
A local charity is refusing to certify that it does not use United Way funds to support terrorism, saying the request smacks of McCarthyism.Viva House, which has been in operation for more than 40 years, is part of the Catholic Worker movement, whose long and highly-honorable history began with it's founding in the depths of the depression: In 1933 Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin started the "Catholic Worker" newspaper, which they sold for a penny a copy (and which is still the price today). It sparked a movement of hospitality houses serving the poor.
Brendan Walsh and Willa Bickham, who since 1968 have operated Viva House soup kitchen and food pantry on the city [of Baltimore]’s west side, say they were surprised to receive a letter in December from the United Way of Central Maryland asking them to sign and return an “Anti-Terrorism Compliance Measures” form or risk losing money that was pledged to them.
“It’s tantamount to signing a loyalty oath,” Walsh says. ...
Bickham and Walsh drafted a letter in reply declining to fill out the form. “We continue to ‘do the works of mercy and resist the works of war,’” the couple wrote in a Jan. 5 letter addressed to the United Way’s [local director of donor services, Gail] James, quoting from Viva House’s mission statement. “Loyalty oaths don’t bring about unity or good health. Instead, they break us apart as a people.” The letter urges the United Way to abandon its USA PATRIOT Act compliance effort.
Today over 185 Catholic Worker communities remain committed to nonviolence, voluntary poverty, prayer, and hospitality for the homeless, exiled, hungry, and foresaken. Catholic Workers continue to protest injustice, war, racism, and violence of all forms."Violence" including the slow but continuing erosion of civil liberties and the right of free association. Good on them.
Footnote: Back in 2003, the ACLU initially agreed to sign a related oath from the Combined Federal Campaign for fear of losing the funding it received that way but then rescinded the decision and gave up the funding, rejoining only after it and other nonprofits successfully challenged the restrictions. That's just one indication of how tempting it can be to surrender your principles in the face of ever-constricted budgets, to say "It's just a little thing, it doesn't matter, and think of the good we can do with the cash." But it's not a little thing. It never is, even when (in a sense, maybe especially when) it's hard to see it that way. So good on the ACLU for eventually, and double good on Viva House for immediately, recognizing just what it is they were being called on to do.