Sunday, April 17, 2011

Drawing a parallel: Auschwitz and Fort Snelling?

Another Model for Peace: Another Nominee
This Christian community  is officially recognized by the Catholic Church
as a "Church public lay association". It claims 50,000 members in more than 70 countries who are committed to:
  • Prayer centered around a reading of the Bible
  • Spreading the Gospel to help people who are looking for a sense to their life.
  • Service to the poor, which is free and unpaid
  • Commitment to ecumenism  ( rooted in the Catholic Church)
  • Dialogue with members of other religions and those who are not followers of Christ.
The Community of Sant'Egidio was founded in Rome in 1968 by a group of Roman high school students led by Nobel Peace Prize nominee Andrea Riccardi.  This is another fantastic example of teenagers who dreamed big, prayed hard and God blessed their efforts.

Andrea Riccardi
The Community was named after the Roman Church of Sant'Egidio (Italian for Saint Giles) in Trastevere, Italy its first permanent meeting place. Inspired by the Assisi World Day of Prayer, proposed by John Paul II in 1986, the group of high school students accepted the Pope’s final invitation of that historical meeting: “Let’s keep spreading the message of Peace and living the spirit of Assisi”.

Since 1968, the community has gathered each night to pray and read from the Bible, reflecting on the Gospel, eventually spreading throughout the world with a mission of helping those in need. Their activities include setting up refuges for the old, hospices for AIDS patients, and printing a handbook titled "Where to Eat, Sleep, and Wash in Rome" as gifts to the homeless.

The charitable efforts of Sant'Egidio also led it to be a well-regarded mediator of peace negotiations. In the late 1980s, the Community came to the realization that their humanitarian efforts in war torn Mozambique, could not succeed without peace. In 1990, the Community was accepted by the ruling FRELIMO and rebel Mozambican National Resistance as a mediator, playing a key role in the Rome General Peace Accords signed in 1992. They continue peace initiatives in Algeria (notably the 1995 Sant'Egidio Platform), the Balkans, the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the belief that war is the "mother of every poverty”.

From a recent speech by founder Andrea Riccardi: "Dialogue means to patiently weave divided humankind together, it means to be capable of stringing back together the different destinies of peoples. Dialogue is like a medicine that liberates from the demons of hatred, despise and war.

"In two days’ time, our Congress will turn into a pilgrimage to the edge of the abyss, Auschwitz. There, on a day of fasting, we shall go as pilgrims. Men and women cannot have only an abstract idea of evil, division and war. It is not enough. They need to tread on a place with their feet; they need to see, to feel, to touch. It is the meaning of pilgrimage in all faiths. It is the meaning of the pilgrimage of religions to Auschwitz. There, standing on the edge of the abyss, whose bottom cannot be seen, we shall feel the need to show humanity a different way: that of a common destiny for all peoples in peace..."

Contrast this thought with the words of Dakota Scholar Wazayatawin
as she shares her perspective on the difference between the historical interpretation of the concentration camp at Auschwitz and Fort Snelling (Bdote Minnesota USA). 
The Fort Snelling Debate:

Click to watch VIDEO from the Dakota Occupation
of Fort Snelling  as a demonstration that this issue is not yet resolved simply because of events that started the conflict were so long ago.