Monday, October 31, 2011

Paul Ryan: Idolizer of the Market

'Idolizer Of The Market': Paul Ryan Can't Quite Hear The Catholic Church's Call For Economic Justice

John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

Paul Ryan accuses President Obama of engaging in "sowing social unrest and class resentment." The House Budget Committee chairman says the president is "preying on the emotions of fear, envy and resentment."

Paul Ryan accuses Elizabeth Warren of engaging in class warfare. The House Budget Committee chairman the Massachusetts US Senate candidate is guilty of engaging in the "fatal conceit of liberalism."

But what about the Catholic Church, which has taken a far more radical position on economic issues than Obama or Warren? What does the House Budget Committee chairman, a self-described "good Catholic," do then?

If you're Paul Ryan, you don't decry the church for engaging in class warfare. Instead, you spin an interpretation of the church's latest pronouncements that bears scant resemblance to what's been written -- but that just happens to favor your political interests.

Ryan's certainly not the only Catholic politician in Washington to break with the church.

For years, Catholic Democrats from House minority leader Nancy Pelosi to Massachusetts Senator John Kerry to former House Appropriations Committee chairman David Obey have taken their hits for adopting positions that are at odds with the church's teachings with regard to reproductive rights and same-sex marriage.

But many of the same politicians who align with the church on social issues are at odds with the social-justice commitment it brings to economic debates.

Ryan's rigidly right-wing approach to issues of taxation and spending, as well as his deep loyalty to Wall Street (he led the fight to get conservatives to back the 2008 bank bailout), has frequently put him at odds with the church's social-justice teaching.

But never has the distinction been more clear than in recent days, as Ryan's statements have reemphasized his status as the leading congressional spokesman for policy positions that are dramatically at odds with those expressed in a major new statement by the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace?

That puts the congressman in a difficult spot.

Ryan has always identified as a Catholic politician, and he has frequently suggested that he is guided by the teachings of the church, going so far as to write in a July 2011 column for a Catholic publication that "Catholic social teaching is indispensable for officeholders."

So what, Ryan was asked after the release of the Pontifical Council's statement, did the House Budget Committee chairman think of proposals that the Rev. Thomas Reese of Georgetown University's Woodstock Theological Center suggests are "closer to the views of Occupy Wall Street than anyone in the US Congress"?

Time magazine observes: "Those politicians who think the Dodd-Frank law went too far in attempting to reform Wall Street will likely need smelling salts after taking a look at a proposal for reforming the global financial system that was released by the Vatican." Calling into question the entire foundation of neo-liberal economics and proposing one world financial order? You never know what those radicals over at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace will come up with next."

So what was Paul Ryan's take?

What did the chairman of the House Banking Committee think of the pontifical council's highlighting of Pope John Paul II's criticism of the "idolatry of the market"? What of the council's call for "the reform of the international monetary system and, in particular, the commitment to create some form of global monetary management" that will end abuses and inequity and restore "the primacy of the spiritual and of ethics needs to be restored and, with them, the primacy of politics -- which is responsible for the common good -- over the economy and finance"?

Ryan's initial response to a pointed question about whether the church, with urging of "the global community to steer its institutions towards achieving the common good," might be engaging in the "class warfare" he so frequently decries, was to try and laugh the contradictions off.

"Um, I actually do read these," Ryan joked, with regard to Pontifical pronouncements. "I'm a good Catholic, you know ... get in trouble if I don't."

Pressed to actually answer the question, the usually direct and unequivocal Ryan suddenly embraced moral relativism.

"You could interpret these in different ways," he said of the statements from the church's hierarchy. "I think you could derive different lessons from it," he added.

Amusingly, the congressman then took a shot at moral relativism, suggesting that when the pope expresses concern regarding the global financial system he is "talking about the extreme edge of individualism predicated upon moral relativism that produces bad results in society for people and families, and I think that's the kind of thing he is talking about."

That's an interesting statement coming from a congressman who frequently mentions his reverence for Ayn Rand, the novelist who set herself up as a high priestess of individualism.

It's also wrong.

The statements from the pope and the pontifical council have been focused and clear in their criticism of the greed and abuse that characterizes the current financial system, of their concerns about the economic inequity its has spawned, and especially about the damage done to the poor by the "idolatry of the market."

The pontifical council is calling for dramatically more oversight and regulation of financial markets, and for the establishment of new public authorities "with universal jurisdiction" to provide "supervision and coordination" for "the economy and finance."

"These latter (economy and finance) need to be brought back within the boundaries of their real vocation and function, including their social function, in consideration of their obvious responsibilities to society, in order to nourish markets and financial institutions which are really at the service of the person, which are capable of responding to the needs of the common good and universal brotherhood, and which transcend all forms of economist stagnation and performative mercantilism," the council continues. "On the basis of this sort of ethical approach, it seems advisable to reflect, for example, on ... taxation measures on financial transactions through fair but modulated rates with charges proportionate to the complexity of the operations, especially those made on the 'secondary' market. Such taxation would be very useful in promoting global development and sustainability according to the principles of social justice and solidarity. It could also contribute to the creation of a world reserve fund to support the economies of the countries hit by crisis as well as the recovery of their monetary and financial system""

That's a reference to a financial speculation tax, something that Ryan -- a major recipient of campaign contributions from traders, hedge-fund managers and other Wall Street insiders -- has historically opposed.

The pontifical council says that such a tax should be considered "in order to nourish markets and financial institutions which are really at the service of the person, which are capable of responding to the needs of the common good and universal brotherhood, and which transcend all forms of economist stagnation and performative mercantilism."

There is no moral relativism in that statement, no list of options. Rather, there is a call from the Catholic Church for the development of an economy and financial systems "capable of responding to the needs of the common good and universal brotherhood."

I happen to agree with the church on this one. My sense is that my friend Paul Ryan does not.

America is not a theocracy. Ryan certainly has a right to deviate from church doctrine as he chooses. But, hopefully, he will recognize that he is, like those members of Congress who support reproductive rights or same-sex marriage, distancing himself from the position of the church.

He is free to do so, of course. But those of us who understand that budgets are moral documents -- which outline the values and priorities of a society -- are equally free to wonder whether Paul Ryan, as chairman of the House Budget Committee, is perhaps engaging too ardently in the "idolatry of the market."

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Tim Egan NY Times Boomer Parent's Lament

Those of us who work in Universities should take time to reflect on what Tim Egan says here. The young adults whom we serve need to be instructed in learning about the true worth of things and the joys of the simple things in life. We need to help them develop their hearts and souls as much as, or more than, their intellects and resumes. Peace Rick


Boomer Parent's Lament

What we talk about when we talk about tomorrow is the great fear that our kids will never find their way, now that opportunity is just another word for no. By we, I mean parents of a certain age.

I fell into one of these conversations a few weeks ago with a mother of two grown children, both boys, both graduates from terrific universities, both shackled to college loans as heavy as a ship’s anchor.

Her sons jumped from commencement to the real world full of springy confidence. But now, two years after graduation, after hundreds of rejections, after their resumes bounced back like boomerangs to the head, they were living at home, and every day brought another dent to their self-confidence.

“What do I tell them?” she asked. You can’t lie. You can’t remind them how special there are, because that was part of the problem. The hope reflex seems phony. I was at a loss to say anything beyond an expression of sympathy.

Later, though, I thought of something obvious: self-worth should never be tied to net worth. Easy to say, of course, an ancient observation. But I was struck by a failing of many fellow parents of recession-whacked Millennials. For all the efforts to raise hyper-achievers, we didn’t teach enough of a basic survival skill — to find joy in simple things not connected to a grade, a trophy or a job.

What was missing in the life message of child-raising was some of the counter-cultural swagger in that 2005 commencement speech by Steve Jobs, the one that made the viral video rounds after his death. If you listen to the whole speech, it is what he says at the end that seems so apt for these years of diminished expectations. “Stay hungry,” Jobs said, borrowing an admonition from the creators of The Whole Earth Catalogue, an early bible for him, and equally important, “Stay foolish.”

Hungry is the easy part. Employment rates and starting salaries have fallen off a cliff for new college graduates in the last two years. One study found that 55 percent of humanities majors newly released from school are either not working or hold jobs that require no college degree. I know a Stanford honors graduate in English literature who works as a nanny, and a University of Michigan political science graduate on the night shift at an Amazon warehouse. Their friends call them lucky.

There is all sorts of topical journalism on this issue. Last week brought a New York magazine piece by Noreen Malone, a self-snarky confessional with these words on the cover: “Sucks to Be Us: Coming of Age in Post-Hope America.”

“We grew up, all the way through college, with everything seeming so ripe and possible,” Malone writes. She defines the Millennials this way: “We are self-centered and convinced of our specialness and unaccustomed to being denied.”

There were those soccer games with no losers or winners, with everybody getting a trophy at season’s end. (Even if most parents knew the score.) And all those small bodies trudging home with ridiculously heavy backpacks, loaded down in many cases with SAT prep material for children yet to lose their front teeth. The summertime menu included homework camp. How fun!

All of the above was in service to a child prepared to enter a competitive and punishing world — that is, prepared in a certain way, only for things that could be controlled and quantified.

“It might be hard, in fact, to create a generation more metaphysically ill-equipped to adjust” to the economic realities of 2011, Malone writes.

Defining an entire generation in short-hand is something trendy magazines always do. Twenty years ago, there was a rush of silly stories about how a single woman past a certain age had a better chance of getting killed by terrorists than finding a suitable spouse. But Malone makes some points that ring true.

She quotes a friend, Lael Goodman, with the kind of complaint that will sound familiar to many people just out of college. “The worst thing is that I’ve always gotten self-worth from performance, especially good grades. But now that I can’t get a job, I feel worthless.”

Goodman nails it — the self-worth from performance. And for that, we parents have to take the blame. Baby Boomers who rejected “Mad Men” conformity groomed their offspring to expect only the best, to climb a ladder that would end in startups cranking out stock-option millionaires.

My father was a child of the Great Depression, raised by a widowed mother living above a little bar in Chicago. He never tried to make himself out to be more virtuous than anyone else because he had lived through hard times. His parenting was by example. As such, my lasting image is of him making meatballs and a thick spaghetti sauce on Saturday night, while going through a stack of Neil Diamond and Frank Sinatra records. He was never happier.

Maybe if I knew that our children would be coming of age in an economy that would crush even the best and brightest among them, I would have cared a little less about their score on an advanced placement history test, and a little more about helping them find happiness in moments at the margin. I hope many of them are doing just that — without our help

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Friday, October 28, 2011

Not Enough to Go Around?

There are those who would have you think there is not enough to go around. Truth is, out global community, which will hit 7 billion any day now, does produce enough for all. We must learn how to better share our resources (or we'll end up like these pups, waiting for the one tree...)

Our Faith and Economic Realities: What is Jesus Asking of Us?

Fr. Rick Malloy, S.J., Ph.D.

In the next few weeks, as we near the end of this liturgical Year A, we will hear the great challenges to Love and do Justice that appear in the final Chapters of Matthew’s Gospel. “The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matt 23:11-12). And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.' ” (Matt 25: 40).

What moves in our hearts and minds when we hear these words of Jesus and then ponder the economic realities of our age?

On Oct 16 2011, Nick Kristof reported in the New York Times that:

* The 400 wealthiest Americans have a greater combined net worth than the bottom 150 million Americans.

* The top 1 percent of Americans possess more wealth than the entire bottom

90 percent.

* In the Bush expansion from 2002 to 2007, 65 percent of economic gains went to the richest 1 percent.

Here are some other factoids to get us thinking.

* 22% of children in America live in poverty.

* 15.1% of Americans live in poverty. That’s 46.2 million people.

* According to the U.S. Government, the poverty line is $22,314 for a family of four.

* Business Week noted: “The Pew Research Center said its recent polling shows that a majority of Americans -- for the first time in 15 years of being surveyed on the question -- oppose more government spending to help the poor. The deep budget cuts by the U.S. House earlier this year included programs that helped the poor.”

* Globally, 80% of Planet earth lives on less than $10 a day.

* Across our planet, 21,000 children die each day from preventable causes


“There also exist sinful inequalities that affect millions of men and women. These are in open contradiction of the Gospel” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1938).

“The equal dignity of human persons requires the effort to reduce excessive social and economic inequalities” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1947).

“The needs of the poor take priority over the desires of the rich; the rights of workers over the maximization of profits; the preservation of the environment over uncontrolled industrial expansion; the production to meet social needs over production for military purposes” (Economic Justice for All, #94)

“The way society responds to the needs of the poor through its public policies is the litmus test of its justice or injustice” (Economic Justice for All, #123).

“Those who are more influential because they have greater share of goods and common services should feel responsible for the weaker and be ready to share with them all they possess... the church feels called to take her stand beside the poor, to discern the justice of their requests and to help satisfy them, without losing sight of the good of groups in the context of the common good” (On Social Concern, #39)

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Occupy Wall Street: More on Income Inequality in USA

Here are some good links to info on inequality in the USA.

Income Inequality

Mother Jones tells it like is is.

Huffington Post provides charts

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Listen to the 99%! Occupy Wall Street!

America’s Primal Scream By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF Oct 16, 2011 Op-Ed Columnist

IT’S fascinating that many Americans intuitively understood the outrage and frustration that drove Egyptians to protest at Tahrir Square, but don’t comprehend similar resentments that drive disgruntled fellow citizens to “occupy Wall Street.”

There are differences, of course: the New York Police Department isn’t dispatching camels to run down protesters. Americans may feel disenfranchised, but we do live in a democracy, a flawed democracy — which is the best hope for Egypt’s evolution in the coming years.

Yet my interviews with protesters in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park seemed to rhyme with my interviews in Tahrir earlier this year. There’s a parallel sense that the political/economic system is tilted against the 99 percent. Al Gore, who supports the Wall Street protests, described them perfectly as a “primal scream of democracy.”

The frustration in America isn’t so much with inequality in the political and legal worlds, as it was in Arab countries, although those are concerns too. Here the critical issue is economic inequity. According to the C.I.A.’s own ranking of countries by income inequality, the United States is more unequal a society than either Tunisia or Egypt.

Three factoids underscore that inequality:

¶The 400 wealthiest Americans have a greater combined net worth than the bottom 150 million Americans.

¶The top 1 percent of Americans possess more wealth than the entire bottom 90 percent.

¶In the Bush expansion from 2002 to 2007, 65 percent of economic gains went to the richest 1 percent.

As my Times colleague Catherine Rampell noted a few days ago, in 1981, the average salary in the securities industry in New York City was twice the average in other private sector jobs. At last count, in 2010, it was 5.5 times as much. (In case you want to gnash your teeth, the average is now $361,330.)

More broadly, there’s a growing sense that lopsided outcomes are a result of tycoons’ manipulating the system, lobbying for loopholes and getting away with murder. Of the 100 highest-paid chief executives in the United States in 2010, 25 took home more pay than their company paid in federal corporate income taxes, according to the Institute for Policy Studies.

Living under Communism in China made me a fervent enthusiast of capitalism. I believe that over the last couple of centuries banks have enormously raised living standards in the West by allocating capital to more efficient uses. But anyone who believes in markets should be outraged that banks rig the system so that they enjoy profits in good years and bailouts in bad years.

The banks have gotten away with privatizing profits and socializing risks, and that’s just another form of bank robbery.

“We have a catastrophically bad misregulation of the financial system,” said Amar Bhidé, a finance expert at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. “Its consequences led to a taint of the entire system of modern enterprise.”

Economists used to believe that we had to hold our noses and put up with high inequality as the price of robust growth. But more recent research suggests the opposite: inequality not only stinks, but also damages economies.

In his important new book, “The Darwin Economy,” Robert H. Frank of Cornell University cites a study showing that among 65 industrial nations, the more unequal ones experience slower growth on average. Likewise, individual countries grow more rapidly in periods when incomes are more equal, and slow down when incomes are skewed.

That’s certainly true of the United States. We enjoyed considerable equality from the 1940s through the 1970s, and growth was strong. Since then inequality has surged, and growth has slowed.

One reason may be that inequality is linked to financial distress and financial crises. There is mounting evidence that inequality leads to bankruptcies and to financial panics.

“The recent global economic crisis, with its roots in U.S. financial markets, may have resulted, in part at least, from the increase in inequality,” Andrew G. Berg and Jonathan D. Ostry of the International Monetary Fund wrote last month. They argued that “equality appears to be an important ingredient in promoting and sustaining growth.”

Inequality also leads to early deaths and more divorces — a reminder that we’re talking not about data sets here, but about human beings.

Some critics think that Occupy Wall Street is simply tapping into the public’s resentment and covetousness, nurturing class warfare. Sure, there’s a dollop of envy. But inequality is also a cancer on our national well-being.

I don’t know whether the Occupy Wall Street movement will survive once Zuccotti Park fills with snow and the novelty wears off. But I do hope that the protesters have lofted the issue of inequality onto our national agenda to stay — and to grapple with in the 2012 election year.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Jesuit Asks, "Does Hooking Up Work?"

University Jesuit asks students ‘does hooking up work?’

College students have heard umpteen lectures and presentations on the phenomena known as the hook up culture. A hook up is a sexual encounter anywhere along the continuum from kissing to oral sex to intercourse. The fact that, for some, oral sex is as normal and common as a good night kiss still amazes people my age.

The key meaning to a “hook up” is that there are no expectations of the often drunken bump and grind developing any further. A hook up is not “just kissing.” Do it and done: that’s the deal. Don’t call me. Don’t look at me at meals or at Mass. What we did then stays then.

But is this true? Can “what happens on the hill, stay on the hill” or does the reality make an appearance in classrooms and dorms? Does the reality and do the aftereffects last for days, even years?

People are inherently real. There are no “take backs” to our freely chosen actions. What we do “echoes for eternity,” as Russell Crowe said in Gladiator. You will always be connected to those with whom you swap spit. Give an STD or STI(does calling it an STI make it any less diseased or deadly?) to someone and that person will remember you forever. Remember Herpes: the gift that keeps on giving.

More importantly, I ask young adults: Does the practice of engaging in multiple “hook ups” work? Will a man or woman who had multiple sexual partners make a good husband or wife? Is hooking up good training for life?

There’s an old saying in Jesuit circles: We form our habits and our habits form us. Those whose sexual practices militate against fidelity, monogamy and meaning during their late teen and young adult years will not easily settle down once they marry in their late 20s or early 30s.

Tiger Woods wasn’t able to turn off the hook up game after he married, and now his wife and kids and golf game are all suffering. John Edwards will never be president, largely because he couldn’t say “No” to a videographer. And does any young woman really want to grow up and become Snooki or Chelsea Handler?

John Van Epp writes in “U.S. Catholic” that the marriages of those who wed in their early twenties are often more stable than those who marry later. Teen marriage divorce rates are high, but those who choose and commit in their early 20s often last. Van Epp cites a study done by Tim Heaton, who found that those who settle down early, don’t play around and don’t cohabitate are more likely to find longevity and happiness in their marriage.

“Furthermore, there may actually be increased risks associated with delaying marriage to the end of your 20s or into your 30s. For instance, waiting to get married often leads to more premarital sex, premarital cohabitation, and premarital births, which are all associated with higher rates of marital instability. In addition, there is a smaller selection pool as you reach your early 30s (by age 30, 75 percent of the population are married). At that point, the chances of achieving a quality relationship lower because of the difficulty with finding a suitable partner,” Van Epp wrote.

Van Epp argues that what happens in one relationship carries over into other relationships.
“[W]hat occurs in relationships, no matter how insignificant, carries some measure of influence on you, the way you think and what you take into your next relationship,” Van Epp said.
As scripture says, in what is both an encouragement and a warning, “You reap what you sow.”

Research has shown that what most people really want is to find one person and settle down for life. No one desires divorce. We are made to connect and commit (animals may be promiscuous, and that is one of the reasons we call them animals and not human). Animals cannot choose freely, be moral or practice justice.

Hook ups preclude the formation of loving and life giving relationships and therefore are inherently unjust. Hooking up often doesn’t even result in good sex. Hooks ups are mostly horny, alcohol soaked bodies engaging more in mutual masturbation than in true love making.
We need to learn how to love. Our culture and society need to practice reconciliation, the putting back together of that which is broken by sinfulness, selfishness and enslavement.

Sex is like dynamite. Used wisely and well, our sexual powers make for liberty, love and life. Used indiscriminately and stupidly, sex explodes and destroys those who use and abuse one another.

Our souls are imprinted by our choices. “It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities,” Dumbledore told Harry.

Find the courage and wisdom to choose what is sane, moral and just. Avoid the insanity and destructiveness of the hook up culture. Strive to be real. Real men and real women form real relationships, long and life lasting unions that lead to faith in one another and God. Don’t be afraid. Have the courage to choose love and life. Your kids will thank you.

Commentary By
REV. Richard G. Malloy, S.J., Ph. D.
Jesuit Community

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Sunday, October 02, 2011

Scranton does not want Prejudice in our Community

Welcoming community no place for prejudice

BY REV. Richard G. Malloy, S.J. (GUEST COLUMNIST) Published: October 2, 2011

MALLOY The Rev. Richard G. Malloy, S.J., Ph.D., is vice president of university ministries at the University of Scranton. He is the author of "A Faith That Frees."

After a late Sunday night flight from Chicago after a weekend wedding I was standing on the ramp waiting for a carry-on bag. A guy in a baseball cap and flannel shirt tells me he's from a state in the deep South. He's up here working the natural gas jobs.

He asks, "Where you from?"

"I've been in Scranton about a year, but I'm from Philly," I answer.

He says, "So, how's those flash mobs?"

"Bad news," I reply.

Then he looks at me and says, "You know, you never see a white flash mob," accompanied by a white-guy-to-white-guy-look" that some white guys don't realize other white guys don't appreciate.

"Really," I say. "This morning I saw some pretty horrific white guy BS on TV, white people beating the hell out of one another at stadiums in Baltimore and Oakland. It's not color that matters, Dude. It's stupidity."

He didn't seem to appreciate my sentiments.

Too many good ole boys don't get it. The USA is changing. We are more diverse. Those who actively oppose or resent and don't accept diversity are harming not only themselves, but the communities in which they work and live.

If people of color get the message that Northeast Pennsylvania is not a welcoming place, in a generation, only old, white people will be living here with no one to continue our communities.

There are almost 309 million people in the USA. Only some 197 million (63.7 percent) are "white, non-Hispanic." About 38.9 million (12.6 percent) are African-American and another 50 million (16.3 percent) are Latinos (U.S. Census 2010). By the time I'm an old man, 2042, the USA will become a nation in which no one group makes up 50 percent of the population (Perez and Hirschman 2009).

In a year here in NEPA, I've met many great people, folks who are friendly and welcoming, people who work hard to make a good world for their family and neighbors. Most would love to see their children and grandchildren settle and thrive in the Lackawana Valley.

I hope that people whose skin tone is darker than mine experience what I've experienced here. But I know my African-American and Latino friends have questions I don't entertain when I travel outside our big cities.

A few years ago, I was at a Jesuit retreat center near the Pennsylvania-Maryland border. For years, folks from our parishes in place like Philadelphia, Camden, N.J., and Baltimore have visited the center. Over the years, I'd heard of some of the local good ole boys who keep a flavor of the Klan in the air. They are not appreciative of what they call "mud people" invading "their" territory.

One Saturday afternoon, the family retreat schedule called for free time when we could just kick back and relax. Three Latino guys came over and asked if they could go into nearby Waynesboro, get a beer, and catch some of the Phillies game on TV. I told them they'd better ask their wives if they could go, but I didn't see how it would disrupt things. They looked at me and then at one another, with glances that communicated, "He's not really getting it."

"Yo, Padre Rick, we need to know if it's OK for 'us,' you know, guys who look like us, to go into that local bar."

It hit me again. The blindness of white privilege. I never think twice about where I go, or what I do when there. No one is going to look at me askance because I'm "white" or "Irish." But my three Puerto Rican friends, U.S. citizens, as are all Puerto Ricans, had to wonder and worry if their entering a public establishment in the great commonwealth of Pennsylvania would be a problem.

We "white guys" have to speak up to other "white guys" and let them know our future depends on building communities wherein people who don't look like "us" feel welcomed and appreciated.

Anyone coming here to NEPA to take our gas should know we don't appreciate anyone bringing outdated and destructive attitudes and ideas of racial privilege to our valley.

God made the magical Pocono mountains for all peoples. The Catholic Church teaches that racism is a sin. We need to root out of our minds, hearts and souls any remnants of prejudice and discrimination lodged there by all too recent societal dynamics.

I was born in 1955 into a USA in which segregation was legal, lethal and largely unquestioned. By the time I was 10 years old, the entire country had changed for the better as a result of the courageous work and sacrifice of those in the Civil Rights movement.

Here we are, some 50 years later. Let's not allow a resurgence in hateful and idiotic prejudice to reassert its ugly and stupid presence among us or our children.

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