Statement of Solidarity with School of the Americas Watch

November 23, 2011

Sister Michelle spoke at the School of the Americas vigil on November 21, 2011 accompanied by Mercy Associate Nelly del Cid from Honduras, Sister Tita from Panama and Sister Anita from Argentina. 

Good morning,

I am here to represent the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, Mercy Associates, Mercy Volunteers, Mercy College Students, and Ministry Partners who are standing in solidarity with you and with all those negatively affected by the graduates of the SOA. We come with mercy, compassion, and hope, but also with a sense of urgency and impatience:

  • As the Mercy Family, we are scandalized that we, the USA, who are 4% of the world’s population, have 50% of the world’s military;
  • We are scandalized that the US has troops in 130 or so countries currently;
  • We are scandalized that in a country where 80% of us claim to be Christian, many seem to have forgotten the words of Jesus- that we should actually love our neighbor as ourselves.

We all know whose interests our numerous military bases are protecting.

And yet there is hope:

  • There is hope in our Honduran Mercy Sisters and Associates who are part of the “women resisting violence” movement inHonduras;
  • Our Panama sisters gave us hope, when in 1984, their efforts and those of others succeeded in getting the SOA out of Panama;
  • And there is hope in you, who come here year after year to say NO to the oppressive, unjust structures of a military culture.

You know what solidarity is:  standing with our brothers and sisters in love and compassion- to the end.

So we must continue this SOA Watch here and at home- as our sisters from Latin America have reminded us, we must connect the dots and be awake and alert to what’s happening around us.

Let us continue until that day when right relationships, non-violence, the common good, and finally, peace, will prevail in the Americas and all over our planet.  Thank you!

Experiencing the SOA Watch the First Time

By Sister Michelle Gorman, R.S.M,  Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Community Leadership Team Justice Liaison,

November 29, 2011

After many years of being aware of the annual School of the Americas (SOA/WHINSEC) protests at Fort Benning, GA, I finally was able to attend.  I was inspired by the presence of so many Catholic groups as well as the intergenerational mix of college students, middle aged activists, and older people aided by canes and wheelchairs. Fr. Roy Bourgeois and Martin Sheen were the celebrities who spoke from a long history of efforts to close the SOA. Mercy Sisters Anita Siufi (Argentina), Tita Lopez (Panama), and Mercy Associate Nelly del Cid (Honduras) were the Mercies who have lived daily with the effects of the SOA in their respective countries.

The continuing existence of the SOA and its history of militarization in the Americas violates every one of our Critical Concerns, i.e., the practice of non-violence, anti-racism, reverence for Earth, and concern for women and immigrants. The causes of violence, racism, and disrespect for immigrants, women, and Earth itself lie in the greed and inhumanity of ‘the few’ who continue to maintain control over resources in many parts of our world, with complete disregard for the needs of ‘the many’.

In one of her several talks during the protest event, Nelly del Cid reminded us that the three most lucrative issues on our planet today are trafficking in persons, drugs, and arms. This scandalizing fact awakens in us a sense of urgency to act and a renewed support for all those resisting the devaluation of human life for the sake of greed and profit. . . .

How do we, as U.S. citizens and taxpayers, get in touch with our own complicity which results in the denial of basic human rights in so many parts of our world? When we and many other groups beyond the U.S. commit ourselves to work for systemic change, we encounter a system that privatizes land and water, seeds and crops, the very basics of life itself?

Where can we find the courage to continue to seek the welfare of our brothers and sisters if not in the placing of our hope in the God of Mercy, Wisdom, and Mystery, whose compassion extends to the fall of a sparrow?  We must be in solidarity with all of those who, past and present, resisted and continue to resist the unjust structures created by a military culture that is becoming more and more pervasive in our world.  Our planet is too beautiful to be destroyed; our brothers and sisters worldwide are too beautiful to be dominated by those who only seem to value the bottom line.

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