January 2020 Newsletter
Issue #35
Economic Injustice
January is Catholic Poverty Awareness Month , so here is a variety of economic facts & figures from both a global and national perspective:

In 2019 the world's 500 richest people added $1.2 trillion to their collective net worth, boosting their holdings by 25% to $5.9 trillion.

In 2017, the net worth of 50% ( 3,800,000,000 ) of the world's people was matched by 43 of the richest billionaires. In 2018, this number dropped to 26 of the richest billionaires.

People living in high income countries can expect to live 10 years longer.
World Bank

Income inequality in the U.S. is at its highest level in more than 50 years. 
U.S. Census Bureau

Median Family Wealth:
White family     $171,000
Latino family    $20,700
Black family     $17,600
Urban Institute & Brookings Institution

Since 1978, the cost of a college tuition has increased by 1,120% . Medical care has increased by 601%. Food costs have increased by 244% and the price of shelter has risen by 360% . Meanwhile, the average pay for a CEO increased by 937% but the pay for a typical worker rose by just 10% and the minimum wage fell by 5.5%.
                        EPI, Bloomberg and U.S. Labor Dept. 

Pay Ratios Between Large Company CEOs & US Workers
1980      42:1
2016      347:1
Institute for Policy Studies and AFL-CIO

US Average Household Incomes in 2015
Bottom 90%        $34,074
Top 10%              $312,536
Top 5%                $477,293
Top 1%                $1,363,977
Top 0.1%             $6,747,439
                             University of California at Berkeley

US Real Weekly Wages by Population

Bottom 10%: $414     
Median: $762      
Top 10%: $1,479

Bottom 10%: $397           
Median: $832             
Top 10%: $2,004

US Bureau of Labor Statistics 
A child is born into poverty every 41 seconds in America
Children’s Defense Fund

Nearly 20% of infants, toddlers and preschoolers are poor.
The Urban Institute

Nearly 50% of all poor children under 5 live in extreme poverty.
The Urban Institute

More than 66% of poor children are children of color.
The Urban Institute

66% of poor children in related families live with an adult who works and nearly 33% live with a family member who works full time year round.
The Urban Institute

For more on Poverty, click here.
Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA)
An international economic development organization whose mission is to create business solutions to poverty. Founded in 1953 by a group of Mennonite entrepreneurs, they partner with people living in poverty to start or grow small and medium-sized businesses in developing regions around the world. MEDA helps:
  • Alleviate poverty
  • Support sustainable business growth and livelihoods
  • Women move into more valued and equitable roles in their economies
  • Businesses and small entrepreneurs gain access to financial services including investment, adopt clean technologies/climate-smart approaches, and minimize their environmental footprint
  • Improve local economies
To learn more, click here.
For more on Poverty , click here.
A Personal Plea for Humanity
at the U.S.-Mexico Border
A powerful & personal TED talk, featuring author and academic Juan Enriquez who shares stories from inside the immigration crisis at the US-Mexico border, bringing this often-abstract debate back down to earth -- and showing what we can do every day to create a sense of belonging for immigrants. "This isn't about kids and borders," he says. "It's about us. This is about who we are, who we the people are, as a nation and as individuals." Watch now.
For more on Immigration , click here.
Faith, Hope and Resilience
on the Migrant Trail
A TED talk featuring Jon Lowenstein, a photographer who for the past 20 years, has documented the migrant journey from Latin America to the United States, one of the largest transnational migrations in world history. Sharing photos from his decade-long project "Shadow Lives USA," Lowenstein takes viewers into the inner worlds of the families escaping poverty and violence in Central America -- and pieces together the complex reasons people leave their homes in search of a better life. Watch now.
For more on Immigration , click here.
And Then They Came for Us
Tells the story of Presidential Executive Order 9066, that led to the unconstitutional forced incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans during the Second World War. It also brings history into the present, following Japanese American activists as they speak out against the Muslim registry and travel ban.
For more on Racism , click here.
College Behind Bars
A 4-part series from PBS that explores the transformative power of education through the eyes of a dozen incarcerated men and women trying to earn college degrees – and a chance at new beginnings – from one of the country’s most rigorous prison education programs. 
Part 1: No One Ever Taught Me Any of That
Part 2: I'm Trying to Get Home to My Family, Too
Part 3: Every Single Word Matters
Part 4: Home is a Work in Progress
For more on the Criminal Justice System ,
What if We Ended the Injustice of Bail?
A TED Talk by Robin Steinberg, who points out that on any given night, more than 450,000 people in the United States are locked up in jail simply because they don't have enough money to pay bail. The sums in question are often around $500: easy for some to pay, impossible for others. This has real human consequences -- people lose jobs, homes and lives, and it drives racial disparities in the legal system. She outlines a plan to address this called The Bail Project -- an unprecedented national revolving bail fund to fight mass incarceration. Watch now. 
For more on the Criminal Justice System ,
Vera Institute
Works for justice reform built on bedrock American values and grounded in action at the state and local level. Committed to securing equal justice, ending mass incarceration and strengthening families and communities. Learn more .
For more on the Criminal Justice System ,
Just Mercy
Based on the book of the same name, tells the story of civil rights defense attorney Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), as he recounts his experiences and details the case of a condemned death row prisoner whom he fought to free. Watch the trailer.
For more on the Criminal Justice System ,
Global Health Ministries
Continues the holistic ministry of Jesus Christ by partnering with Lutheran efforts globally to enhance and sustain the health and well-being of communities currently being served in 12 countries in Africa, Asia & Central America. Learn more.
For more on Health Care , click here.
How to Deconstruct Racism,
One Headline at a Time
A TED Talk featuring Baratunde Thurston, who explores the phenomenon of white Americans calling the police on black Americans who have committed the crimes of ... eating, walking or generally "living while black." In this profound, thought-provoking and often humorous talk, he reveals the power of language to change stories of trauma into stories of healing -- while challenging us all to level up.
For more on Racism, click here.
A Juror's Reflection on the Death Penalty
A TED Talk, featuring Lindy Lou Isonhood, who grew up in a town where the death penalty was a fact of life, part of the unspoken culture. But after she served as a juror in a capital murder trial -- and voted "yes" to sentencing a guilty man to death -- something inside her changed. In this engaging and personal talk, Isonhood reflects on the question she's been asking herself in the 25 years since the trial:
Am I a murderer? Watch now.
For more on Capital Punishment , click here.
Nature Now
A short video featuring climate activist Greta Thunberg and writer/climate activist George Monbiot, who urge a natural solution to climate change: protecting our forests. They point out that we currently spend 1,000 times more money on fossil fuel subsidies than on natural based solutions. They urge viewers to vote for people who want to protect the environment, share this video & join the movement.   Watch now.
For more on the Environment, click here.
Liturgical Press People of God Series
Each book features a compelling and honest biography of an important twentieth or twenty-first century Catholic including: Pope John XXIII, Thomas Merton, Pope Francis, Dorothy Day, Oscar Romero, Martin Sheen, Rutilio Grande, Cardinal Bernardin & Jean Vanier. Each of these women and men has known challenges and weaknesses, but offers a credible and concrete witness of faith, hope, and love to people of our own day. Learn more.
For more Justice resources, click here.
The Two Hands of Yes and No: One Family's Encounter with the Surprising Power of Active Nonviolence
By John Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn and Dennis Linn. Includes stories ranging from Gandhi’s struggles in India, to resistance against Nazi occupation, the U.S. Civil Rights movement, and protests extending to the recent campaign by young people against gun violence, provides an inspiring account of the amazing power of active nonviolence. Read more.
For more Peace resources, click here.
A Blessing
The world now is too dangerous
And too beautiful for anything but love.
May your eyes be so blessed you see God in everyone.
Your ears, so you hear the cry of the poor.
May your hands be so blessed
That everything you touch is a sacrament.
Your lips, so you speak nothing but the truth with love.
May your feet be so blessed you run
To those who need you.
And may your heart be so opened,
So set on fire, that your love,
Your love, changes everything.
A Black Rock Prayer Book
Important Dates This Month

Individuals Honored This Month

January 6th
At stake are two different visions of faith, the Church of Caesar, powerful and rich; and the Church of Christ - loving, poor and spiritually rich.
January 7th
This is our cry, this is our prayer:
peace in the world.
January 13th
January 14th
The first step in the evolution of ethics is a sense of solidarity with other human beings.
Janaury 14th
For politicians truth and falsehood are unimportant. So I never could become a politician - not even a church politician.
January 15th
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
January 24th
Jesus didn't say, 'Blessed are those who care for the poor.' He said, 'Blessed are we where we are poor, where we are broken.' It is there that God loves us deeply and pulls us into deeper communion with himself.
January 31st
Peace demands the most heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice. It demands greater heroism than war. It demands greater fidelity to the truth and a much more perfect purity of conscience.
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