Yesterday evening a segment of the NEWSHOUR focused on girls’ high school graduation; in fact the first in the small village highlighted within Afghanistan! Another significant event of the past week – the death of Sister of Charity Mary Grafe who spent many years of her ministry in Over-the-Rhine meeting, assisting and talking with high school girls in 20/20 (Hamilton County Juvenile Detention Center) along with other women’s groups in OTR. Mary used to joke that at first she was seen as their big sister, then mother and, by the time she finished she was a grandmother. Mary’s commitment reflected the words of another dear friend – Margie Tuite, Dominican Sister, whose words continue to be true: “I think it’s key to hear the voices of the women. There’s a cry of the earth to be free, and the first step is to hear the cry. So it’s very important to keep in close touch with the women who are in the condition of poverty, because if we simply talk about these women it winds up as charity. . . It’s one thing to talk about the victims. It’s another thing to talk with the victims. When it happens to you, you get in touch with a lot of things . . . I’ve learned that unless you stay in touch with the lives of poor people, you have nothing to say.”
Whether it be in Afghanistan or OTR girls and women continue to be marginalized unless and until they are empowered and they still have an uphill, lifetime struggle. Why? The grounding for much of this struggle is the reality of patriarchy. According to author and theologian Rosemary R. Ruether: Patriarchy is the “basic principle of all major relational systems in the western world. . .underlying not only the subordination of women to men, but of one race to another, of colonies to master nations, of nations to divine right monarchs, of believers to clergy. In other words, it’s the nerve of racism, ageism, classism, colonialism and clericalism as well as sexism.”
I am increasingly angry and saddened about the predominance of patriarchy and it’s resultant oppressive SYSTEMS. I believe it’s at the root of much of the injustice in our world. It permeates the mainstream structures within our society: education, health care, religion, politics, economics.
Along with the anger and sadness toward the ongoing effects of patriarchy I also come to the struggle for justice with a faith perspective. For me the gospel is central to my participation in the struggle to help transform lives by changing unjust systems.
Finally, what motivates you? How do you see your life connected to being involved in working for a more just world? Or, do you believe it’s ‘pie in the sky’ mentality? Or, how are you participating? I invite you to share your experience with this blog and/or in interpersonal conversations.