An End to 50 Years of War in Colombia?

via NY Times:

Colombia’s government and the largest rebel group in the country have reached a deal to end more than 50 years of conflict, the two sides announced Wednesday, paving the way for an end to the longest-running war in the Americas.

For four years, the Colombian government and the rebels have been locked in negotiations. Time and again, they have emerged from the negotiating table to assure a weary public that another impasse had been eliminated, another hurdle cleared.

This time, the two sides declared that a final deal had been clinched.

“Today begins the end of the suffering, the pain and the tragedy of war,” President Juan Manuel Santos said in a nationally televised address after the agreement was announced. “Let’s open the door together to a new stage in our history.”

The agreement, reached in Havana where the talks took place, effectively signifies the end of the last major guerrilla struggle in Latin America.

It outlines a timetable in which the rebels, known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, will abandon their arms. It also sets out a pathway in which former fighters will enter civilian life again — and in some cases, run for office.

But to most Colombians, the deal is simply a promise that the war, which has lasted 52 years, claimed some 220,000 lives and displaced more than five million people, is at last coming to an end.


Real Parents

You’re not my real parents.

I said that to them at least once in my life. I followed the comment by running away from home, a slammed door followed by a short jaunt down Lola Drive with my blankee tied up on a yard stick and filled with GI Joe action figures (essential to survival). Five houses down, I realized my mistake and headed back. I pulled up a chair at the dinner table and ate a delicious meal that my parents had provided. They forgave me and loved me through the ordeal, just like “real” parents do.

I’m fairly sure every adopted kid has thought or said the same thing to their parents. It’s still a little confusing, after all, knowing that the people who raised me aren’t the people who made me. By ‘made,’ of course, I mean ‘had sex,’ and then one of them dealt with me explicitly for the next nine months. And both of them (biological mom and dad), after having made me, have probably dealt with the reality of their flesh and blood out there in the world, far removed from them for important, challenging reasons.

***

Simone Biles and I have at least three things in common – we were/are both gymnasts, we are Catholic, and we are adopted. People tend to understand the gymnast and the Catholic thing – sports and faith. Easy. But the adopted thing? Whose kid is this really?

A few days ago, Al Trautwig made (and, to his credit, later apologized for) an awkward, if not offensive, comment about the Olympic champion gymnast and her parentage.  “They may be mom and dad, but they are NOT her parents,” Al tweeted.

Then, who are they?

***

From what I’ve read, Simone’s biological mother Shannon struggled with a drug addiction that left her unable to care for her four children. Shannon’s father Roland (Simone’s biological grandfather) and his wife Nellie took charge, eventually adopting Simone and her little sister. Simone was four years old.

Now 19, Simone has seen Ronald and Nellie looking on from the stands for the entirety of her gymnastics career, which has just recently produced Olympic gold. Ronald and Nellie have driven Simone to early morning workouts, provided an education, fed her, clothed her, cheered her on in her greatest successes and held her close when she lost, or was injured, or was tired and wanted to quit. They gave her faith. They raised her. They are her parents. 1

Unless we want to think of parents in some other way. But I don’t think we can. Not really. The gift of life that parents provide doesn’t end when the child is just out of the womb. The gift extends well beyond first moments and into the flashes of life that parents provide their children each and every day. Parents who stick around for that are real parents. Who love without concern of being loved. Who step up when the kid needs it. Who fly halfway around the world to cheer their kid on. Who watch their daughter win Olympic gold.

It’s not always easy, and sometimes we end up with parents different from the ones who ‘made’ us. But let’s not think that biological connection is the only thing that makes a parent real.

-//-

(1) Imagine telling Joseph that he wasn’t Jesus’ father. Imagine telling Joseph that after all those years wiping baby Jesus’ butt, holding him during bouts with the stomach flu, working to put food on the table, teaching him to pray, to work hard, to pick up after himself, to be a good man and a good Jew, he wasn’t really Jesus’ father. The Christian tradition holds that Joseph is the foster father to Jesus, but I don’t think a qualifier is necessary. Joseph did just what real fathers do: he was there for everything until he couldn’t be there anymore.

This article by Eric Immel, SJ originally appeared at The Jesuit Post.


President Obama on the 25th Anniversary of Ukrainian Independence

“Twenty-five years ago today, Ukraine declared its independence from the Soviet Union.  On behalf of the American people, I’m proud to join the Ukrainian people in marking this historic anniversary.  As we have been reminded in recent years, Ukraine’s path has not always been easy.  From the hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians who linked arms in a great human chain in 1990 to the fallen heroes of the Maidan, realizing the dream of independence has called on the solidarity and sacrifice of the Ukrainian people.  The people of the United States, including proud Ukrainian-Americans, have been honored to partner with Ukraine on this journey.  Today, we reaffirm that the United States will continue to stand with the Ukrainian people as they protect their sovereignty and territorial integrity, embrace the vision of a strong and united Europe, and deepen their commitment to democracy, anti-corruption, and respect for human rights.  I offer my best wishes to all the people of Ukraine.  On this occasion, we are reminded that even in the most difficult moments, the glory and freedom of Ukraine—and the indomitable spirit of the Ukrainian people—lives on.”




Pope Francis: Life is Not a Video Game or Soap Opera

Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, focusing on the door of salvation and the meaning of our lives (via Vatican Radio):

To go along this path, one must pass through a door. But where is the door?  What is it like?  Who is the door?  Jesus himself is the door (cf. Jn 10,9).  He himself says it, ‘I am the door’ in John’s Gospel.  He leads us in communion with the Father, where we find love, understanding and protection. But why is this door narrow? One can ask. Why is it narrow?  It is a narrow door not because it is oppressive – no, but because it asks us to restrict and limit our pride and our fear, to open ourselves with humble and trusting heart to Him, recognizing ourselves as sinners, in need of his forgiveness. For this, it is narrow: to contain our pride, which bloats us.  The door of God’s mercy is narrow but always wide open, wide open for everyone! God has no favorites, but always welcomes everyone, without distinction….

Jesus offers us today, once again, a pressing invitation to go to him, to cross the threshold of a full life, reconciled and happy. He waits for each of us, no matter what sin we have committed, no matter what!  To embrace us, to offer us his forgiveness. He alone can transform our hearts, He alone can give full meaning to our existence, giving us true joy. Upon entering the door of Jesus, the door of faith and of the Gospel, we can leave behind worldly attitudes, bad habits, selfishness and the closing ourselves off. When there is contact with the love and mercy of God, there is real change. And our life is illuminated by the light of the Holy Spirit: an inextinguishable light!…

But if God is good and loves us, why does he close the door – he will close the door at a certain point? Because our life is not a video game or a soap opera; our life is serious and the goal to achieve is important: eternal salvation.


Quote of the Day

Pope Francis: “An individualistic spirit is fertile soil for the growth of that kind of indifference towards our neighbours which leads to viewing them in purely economic terms, to a lack of concern for their humanity, and ultimately to feelings of fear and cynicism.  Are these not the attitudes we often adopt towards the poor, the marginalized, and the “least” of society.”

daffs