September 25, 2012
I have been priviledged to be involved with the ISN from its beginning. It grew out of the annual protests/vigils at the Gates of the SOA at Ft. Benning, GA. Jesuit school students were going down each year and Bob Holstein of California, a devoted protestor and Jesuit educated man, thought the ISN would be a great way to involve more people. The various speakers have energized me over the years. Sr. Helen Prejean, Fr. Orobator, SJ of Africa, Martin Sheen, Fr. Roy Bourgeois, to name a few, spoke to our hearts and helped me and all who were there to be more and more committed to working for justice. Students who participate in local and international service and immersion programs feel greatly supported by the topics presented each year at the teach-in. Textbooks and classroom discussions on topics of justice are important but witnessing injustice is an incredible teaching moment. With other justice issues before us, such as the Dream Act, workers' rights, immigration reform, ecology, my mind and knowledge has been expanded and has been helpful in the clarification and explanation of social justice to the following generations. Meeting with their peers from other schools, the students are uniting in strong solidarity with each other and the poor. But, to be honest, the costs of getting to the teach-in and administering the teach-in are climbing higher and higher. Most students who are interested in social justice and change do not have unlimited resources. Somehow this non-profit has to figure out ways of hosting regional teach-ins. It's more work, I know, but I believe more people would be reached as a result. The annual teach-in could still function. Presence in Washington, DC and lobbying Congress is important. Programming and logistics would have to be detailed very carefully so that the regional teach-ins would have clout and be as effective as the general one is already. Teaching participants to live simply would include being careful about spending money even for excellent causes such as the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice. That being said, the ISN is just what we need to keep our eyes on the common good. In addition to the teach-in, the ISN runs regional workshops on various topics. The groups are smaller and more in depth conversations take place. Even though I most addressed the teach-in I don't want you to lose sight of the fact that the ISN does other programming on justice issues.
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