What’s your point?

March 9, 2007 at 10:36 pm | Posted in Day 3: Friday, 9 March 2007, Laura | Leave a comment

I must confess to all of you who are reading this blog. I am not doing it for the benefit really of anyone but myself. I figured if I take time after each day to name my photos, reflect on my day, etc . . . it won’t be so overwhelming to do so when I get back and you all want me to present (HA). Well at least it started out that way. Now all of the sudden I feel as if more people then I will ever know are reading this and support us in our journey of faith, discovery,and relationship building here. Thank you all for the prayers and thoughts. I’ve been overwhelmed with gratitude to you all.

So on to the day’s events.
We always as good Anglicans do start the morning off with wine, in communion that is. After Eucharist was Bible study. I decided that my study this morning would be at the local mall that the shuttle takes one to every hour on the half. As I was trying to quietly make my way to the front of this huge resort I ran into none other then our former Presiding Bishop, Frank Griswold. He stopped me and asked if I was lost because I was headed the wrong way. I sheepishly said no I was thinking of skipping out on the next piece of our “program.” He then proceeded to ask me if I loved the Bible. I thought to myself “great now I HAVE to go back and study.” I told him that yes I did in fact love the Bible. He replied with “that’s good to know, now if you hurry up you’ll catch Bonnie Anderson and be on the same shuttle!” I had to laugh as he walked away smiling.
After an exciting walk back (Bonnie and I missed the shuttle and got lost), we made it just in time to hear the keynote address on The Millennium Campaign by Salil Shetty, its director, and our new Anglican Observer to the UN, Hellen Wangusa’s response to the address. It was amazing. Salil, the director of the Millennium Campaign started out with some startling stats. To begin with the amount of money we spend on arms in the world is $900 Billion a year. The amount of money it would take to accomplish all MDG’s is about $75 Billion. He then further startled us by telling us these stats did not include the amount of money we’ve spent in Iraq. He also informed us that if we continue at the pace we are now going we will not achieve HALVING poverty and hunger until 2147. So why is this happening? What are some of the issues that are causing our blocks? To begin with our leaders around the world have not been held accountable to the promises that they have made. In part this is because the vast majority of people in the world (namely the USA) are not aware of the MDG campaign and the fact that our leaders have signed their names to do their part monetarily and otherwise. So what do we do with this? We need to get people INVOLVED at the grassroots level. We have the ability to create awareness through our medias and our public platforms we all have. We can campaign to leaders to make policy changes and start keeping their promises. At this point Salil showed an amazing video called the Stand Up Campaign. Words cannot do it justice. Instead, I’m going to make a plea here that if Thom or anyone else at this conference is reading this, is it possible to get that video on this blog as a link? [Editor’s note from Thom: See a Google Earth-enabled photo map of Stand Up event pics at: http://www.standagainstpoverty.org/photos/map, and general information about the Millennium Campaign (the presentation is not online so as not to steal Salil’s thunder) at: http://www.standagainstpoverty.org/photos/map] This campaign and others like it (Such as www.one.org) have had a tremendous response from young people. I’ve spoken many times about this very subject. The few speeches I’ve done about the MDG’s are done often in secular context. I do not exaggerate when I say that at least five people EVERY time I speak, come up and ask for my church’s phone number, address, and/or priests name. This is truly the evangelism tool of my generation. So what is coming up that we can get involved in? There are four things:

  1. in 2007 we will recognize the halfway mark.
  2. G8 Summit in June
  3. 07-07-07 as a rally date and time to show the MDG shadow reports. These are reports that give us very specific info on where we are in our promises to the world.
  4. 10-17-07 Stand Up Campaign part 2. Stand Up And Speak Out.

So Salil ended with a rally cry for all of us from around the world to start pressuring our government to keep their promises. If you are at all driven by this notion, or have connections to people in the political world please please please contact me or someone else who knows how to get you info to talk with our reps about.

Now for Helen’s response.
“It’s comfortable to talk about stats. It’s tough to talk about and to see faces”. Great quote to start with. Then she added some biblical passages to the skeleton. Jesus left his 99 sheep alone to find the 1 sheep that was lost. I feel this directly relates to Rowan’s sermon two days ago. Without every voice in the choir, the music is wrong. She also mentioned the feeding of 5,000. The first response was “send them all home it cannot be done”. That changed into “What do we have? We have bread and wine.” What does the G8 have then? Let’s use our resources. She also spoke to the issue of finding out how to get action on the ground. How do we get the people who we are discussing things about into the discussion? We need to start at a parish (or community) level. She ended with these two things.

A quote from Archbishop Oscar Romero, martyred Roman Catholic archbishop of El Salvador”When I gave food to the hungry I was called a saint. When I asked why they had no food, I was called a communist.” We as Anglicans need to take on this quote as our own battle cry.

She also made the point that we are limited on goals #1-#7 is because we are lacking in goal #8.

Following lunch
We broke into parallel groups that we signed up for on our first day. I signed up for “MDGs 2015: Are we achieving our goals?” This was presented to us (about 20 people) by Namhla Minki – African Monitor. She is heading up the task force that keeps very close tabs on what we are achieving and where we are achieving it in Africa. So in the stats to follow please realize that this is in relation to Africa only. But here is the short answer to the question posed. NO. “But I was born an optimist” So here is where we actually are. Out of 53 countries in Africa these are how many are achieving the goals.

  • Goal #1 (13)
  • Goal #2 (14)
  • Goal #3 (7)
  • Goal #4 (8)
  • Goal #5 (9)
  • Goal #6 (8)
  • Goal #7 (8)

So what can we do? We can mobilize and start implementing action and advocacy at the political level. The MDG’s cannot be accomplished without grassroots. The faith communities are a big part of this movement. And in my opinion the rest of the secular world needs to get on board as well.

So guys, here are some things you can do at home right now to get started.

Join the Millennium Campaign (http://www.millenniumcampaign.org)

Join the Stand Up campaign (http://www.standagainstpoverty.org/)

Write to your local and state representatives to keep their promises.

Get your circles of influence to do the same. Be that church, mosque, temple, family, or co-workers.

I really feel in case you haven’t noticed that .7% is extremely important in the way of monetary donation. However after a statement I heard today I am very much in agreement that political advocacy is where it is going to make the difference. We are fooled (or at least I was) by thinking that if every person, every nation donated .7% then these goals would be achieved. In fact that is not the case. And if you want to delve further I would go so far as to say we as Americans are very good at throwing money at problems just so long as we don’t have to see the problems or be involved in any way shape or form. Other then of course fancy signatures on our checks.

So for those of you out there who are politically involved in some big or small way (you know who you are, and I know you’re reading this!) Be warned I and others like me are going to start holding your feet to the fire. Why not get a leg up on the upcomming elections and beat us voters to the punch. Get involved now, and start creating a movement with us instead of hoping on board when/as it’s convient and helpful for you. And don’t do it for the votes, do it because it’s the right and good thing to do.

As you can see it was a lively and energetic day. There were a lot of things presented to us that were heart breaking. But I really feel that overall the sense here is that the Spirit is moving us towards a direction of the new day. The people who are gathered here are going to change the world. And we need your help. What are you personally going to commit to doing to help us. What are you personally going to get uncomfortable about so we can mend this broken world? How are you personally going to use your .7% of your time/talent and treasure to help achieve these promises to humanity? As we say in Minnesota diocese,” What’s Your Point?”

Laura Amendola, delegate from The Episcopal Church


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