Thursday, June 12, 2014

Want Peace? Work for Justice.

Lately I have been looking back at my own diversity journey, my social justice journey.  This is part 1 of perhaps 3.  I'm not sure how much of part 2 I'm ready to share.

I come at life from the intersection of right-wing conservative military culture, and social-justice Catholicism.  St. Mary's Catholic Church, where I grew up, was just down the street from the Columban Fathers headquarters.  One of the years that I ran cross-country, we trained up Calhoun Street and through their grounds, often ending at the soccer field.

While we did have our parish priests, it was not unusual for one of the Columban Fathers to say Mass on a Sunday morning.  This was the 1980s, so Central and South America were frequent topics, particularly El Salvador.  The need to close the School of the Americas.  And, in 1990-1991, the concepts of Just War, the need to support the troops without necessarily supporting the war.

I wonder, sometimes, if my parents realized the Cognitive Dissonance that would be created, when my father would go to work on Base, and I would go to school to hear about the Priests and nuns arrested in another protest at Offutt's gates.  Sometimes handcuffing themselves to the fence.

I've written about how art was not encouraged in my family.  Between a disinterest in art and an interest in international relations, my junior high electives were Spanish and Current Events.  Often the Current Events class paralleled, previewed, or expanded upon topics that we would also discuss in Religion and Social Studies, reading the Pope and U.S. Bishop's writings about the death penalty, just war, birth control, and similar topics.

Then I started at Mercy High School, and learned more about Catherine McAuley, who is quoted as saying that “nothing was more productive of good to society than the careful education of women.”

Looking back, as I've learned more about Liberation Theology, I am fairly certain that I was educated in that tradition.  There is one other Catholic organization that I have not mentioned yet, and that is the Jesuits.  Creighton University is a significant Jesuit institution in Omaha.  I do not know how many of my teachers were educated there, what level of influence it had on the people around me or the lessons I grew up with.

Life is a journey, faith is a journey, learning and working for diversity is a journey.  I grew up with the saying "If you want peace, work for justice" written into my near-daily education, and I carry that with me as I work on understanding intersectionality, my own kind of feminism, and to find the right tone between the professional women in STEM that I aim to support, and the need for STEM outreach to diverse students across economic boundaries.

How do we make Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics accessible to everyone?