Friday, December 11, 2015

I honestly appreciate everyone who read and responded to last year’s blog entry, either through email, or through a comment on the blog, or just talking.  Since then, though, I’ve had a hard time writing more -- I started this blog update about 10 months ago – I think in February – and since then have added to it periodically, but only now am finishing the update.  It has, obviously, been hard to finish.  I’m disappointed in myself for not following up more on the update from last year (more below on that).  I fear that I’m becoming kind of lazy, complacent, out-of-touch, unmotivated.  I like living in Rome, and the work is interesting at some level, and has some challenges.  But, if I reflect on what I (and others I’ve known) have been involved with over the years, I know that’s the stuff that really matters to me - the hands-on stuff and the lives that we touch in some way. That’s what moves me and what makes me feel alive.  When we work in the field, our bodies, minds, souls and spirits are taken up with the life we are living, what we are doing and the people we are with.  The role I have here is necessary – someone needs to do these things – and for someone else this role would probably be very life-giving and exciting.  This is good for me to do for now, but I know in the future I’ll be looking to get back into the field (so, thanks also to some of you who mentioned some options for when that time comes). 

Several months ago, one of our priests got appointed to become a Bishop.  I’m told that it’s a big deal – and I guess it is.  But . . . the excitement it generated (some people were literally bouncing up and down in their seats when it was discussed) only made me think of Joe (I mention him and have a few pictures of him and the kids he works with at the end of the blog entry from February 2014) and some other people in the field, and wonder why hearing about what they’re doing and about their dedication doesn’t produce the same excitement, the same thrill, the same honor, respect, awe.  Joe has a simple and whole-hearted love for and devotion to the kids with whom he is working...why aren’t we bouncing up and down for him, especially when we hear a story about a girl he’s worked with for 3 years finally being able to take a couple of steps on her own?  Why does everyone get so excited about the new bishop and not about Joe when he adds two more kids to his feeding program and therapy stuff this week?  Everyone is so excited that "one of ours" has been called to be a bishop, yet all of the attention given to that makes me feel a mixture of sad, angry, embarrassed and depressed.

So, an update on my previous blog entry:

I eventually got some feedback from my boss in the States.  He doubted that Archbishop Zeigler knew what he was signing and said he had emailed the Archbishop about it, asking for some clarification from his side.  I think that in his position, the Archbishop should know what he is signing before he signs it, and besides, it wasn’t just a signature since he had apparently made similar statements in public speeches.  I was advised to pass future blog updates through my boss here – “for a good relationship.”  I told my US boss that I would not do that, and that doing such a thing would not be a good relationship from my point of view.  He then advised me to bring the information about Archbishop Zeigler blaming ebola on homosexuals and corruption to the attention of the SMA priest here in Rome who is in charge of Justice and Peace for SMA.  He’s also our representative in the International Justice and Peace (JPIC) group.  When I did that, our rep’s response was that I should take it to the head of the International JPIC myself.  My thoughts:  isn’t that your role??  And now our JPIC guy, the one who wouldn’t take this “touchy” issue, related to health, education and bigotry, is the one who was recently appointed bishop.  Once he was appointed, my natural tendency towards cynicism cleared the clouds about his reasons for being reticent in broaching something controversial regarding an archbishop, which would also be something supporting homosexuals.  Maybe for him this wasn’t an issue of justice and peace, public health, education, bigotry, hatred and fear mongering – maybe it was a different kind of fear that any involvement in this stuff could be damaging to personal hopes and dreams.  So, keeping quiet was the safest way to a future filled with advancement (so much boils down to politics and ambition, as my growing cynical tendency has me believe more and more).

If this had been about people with disabilities, about women and/or children, about any group that has had prejudices against them in the past or present, I wonder – would the reactions have been different?  My point in writing about it was the injustice, no matter what the group.  It was also about the spread of ignorance and bigotry by respected leaders, rather than using their positions to educate the public on health and safety.  Aren’t they supposed to be spreading a message of love?  But instead we get:  “People who are different from you, those with whom you don’t agree – they bring down God’s curses.”  What century/millennia do we live in?

And I am working for an organization that says they stand for the most abandoned of Africa and African descent – yet it supports people who say these things and it doesn’t follow-through on challenging people who make these statements.

I’m ashamed to say I didn’t follow up any further, either.   Why didn’t I at least follow-up with the following-up that my boss said he would do?  Why didn’t I go to the head of the international JPIC group myself?  I don’t know why…. 

And, that’s the end of the story for now.  For me, it’s a disappointing end – it just sort of disappeared.  I just let it sort of disappear.  Nothing came of it.  Ebola isn’t in the news so much anymore, and is more and more under control.  At the same time, recently three new cases came up in Monrovia, Liberia, but now people know the response to make, so things were quickly under control and there shouldn’t be a big outbreak again. 

With that, along with  a little shame and disappointment in myself and others, I move on....

A few people have asked me to update more with photos/stories from Rome, are a few photos:

A friend gave me this great, electric espresso maker that he doesn't need in his home, since he has a kitchen and stove.  Now, I can take coffee breaks in the sun on my balcony, in peace.

I'm lucky to have a balcony, only one other person in the house has one - and we are 23 in the house.  After I was given the coffee maker, I found these perfect espresso cups -- pictures of garlic and corn on them and their handles!!  

Just yesterday I decorated my Christmas tree, which is also on the balcony.  It's also my spring, summer and fall tree....

The beach isn't too far from where I live, and this fall there have been an incredible number of sunny days, and my time is a bit flexible -- as long as I get my work done, it doesn't matter when I do it.  So, when I've had a friend or two who have had off in the afternoon, we've sometimes escaped just for a walk on the beach, and the sunset (and occasionally a beer.....)


At 4:47 PM, Blogger MJ said...

Instead of mentioning the disappointment you feel in yourself, I wish you had mentioned how you have still been helping some of the people in Africa so that they are able to finish what you had started with them before you left for Rome. Seeing them being able to finish because of what you have been doing and not having just forgotten them and their needs and left them hanging is something you should be very proud of and put in your blog--not just the things that you are disappointed in. You have done so much to be proud of, and yes I admit I am a little prejudiced, but I'm sure all those you really know you will agree with me.

At 1:05 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 1:06 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Agree, agree!


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