Daily Riches: “. . . What Money Does For the Rich” (César Chávez)

“As your industry has experienced, our strikers here in Delano and those who represent us throughout the world are well trained for this struggle. They have been under the gun, they have been kicked and beaten and herded by dogs, they have been cursed and ridiculed, they have been stripped and chained and jailed, they have been sprayed with the poisons used in the vineyards; but they have been taught not to lie down and die nor to flee in shame, but to resist with every ounce of human endurance and spirit. To resist not with retaliation in kind but to overcome with love and compassion, with ingenuity and creativity, with hard work and longer hours, with stamina and patient tenacity, with truth and public appeal, with friends and allies, with mobility and discipline, with politics and law, and with prayer and fasting. They were not trained in a month or even a year; after all, this new harvest season will mark our fourth full year of strike and even now we continue to plan and prepare for the years to come. Time accomplishes for the poor what money does for the rich. . . . This letter does not express all that is in my heart, Mr. Barr. But if it says nothing else, it says that we do not hate you or rejoice to see your industry destroyed; we hate the agribusiness system that seeks to keep us enslaved, and we shall overcome and change it not by retaliation or bloodshed but by a determined nonviolent struggle carried on by those masses of farm workers who intend to be free and human.” César Chávez

‘Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan,
I will now arise,’ says the Lord.”
Ps. 12:5a NIV

Moving From The Head to The Heart

  • Imagine workers treated like this simply because they demanded better wages and freedom from exposure to toxic poisons in vineyards.
  • Chávez’s training teaches them to “overcome with love” and through prayer and fasting. Is this what you would expect of striking migrant workers? Is that how you would respond if you were exploited?
  • What does it mean, “Time accomplishes for the poor what money does for the rich.”? Why do essential workers have to fight so hard for safe working conditions and reasonable wages?

Abba, help me to notice the exploited workers around me–to see, to care, to help.

For More: Protest Nation, ed. by Timothy Patrick. New York: New Press, 2010.

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Borrowing the Eyes of God (Dorothee Soelle, Kerry Walters, and Robin Jarrell)

“Society’s conventional image of a mystic is that of a person who withdraws from the world in order to journey inward. . . . The mystic is stereotyped as a guru sitting in splendid isolation on a mountaintop, utterly unconcerned with the world’s affairs. But theologian Dorothee Soelle, herself something of a mystic, argued that . . . the mystic is uniquely motivated and qualified to respond to social and economic injustices. Genuine mystics . . . says Soelle . . . have been liberated from the three powers that typically hold humans in bondage: ego, possession, and violence. . . . The genuine mystic understands that his or her connection with the divine is likewise a connection to all other humans and, indeed, to all of creation—a relationship, as Soelle said, that ‘borrows the eyes of God.’ Patterns of opposition and resistance bred by the division of I and not-I [therefore] collapse to be replaced by ones of mutuality and community. . . . [Soelle] grew up under the Nazi regime and, like many Germans of her generation, never got over the shame of belonging to a nation that willingly collaborated with mass murderers. She was especially worried by the acquiescence of so many people who claimed to be Christian, and eventually concluded that part of the explanation was that they had compartmentalized their faith, transforming it into a private and ‘otherworldly’ thing. Convinced that such privatization is a perversion of faith, Soelle worked as a theologian to demonstrate the social responsibility of religion and as an activist to put her theology into practice. She became one of the Cold War’s leading anti-nuclear voices, a dedicated opponent of both [U.S.] involvement in [the] Vietnam War and Soviet-style communism, and a proponent of liberation theology. The spiritual fuel of these activities was her conviction that the mystical worldview is revolutionary enough to resist ‘powerful but petrified institutions’ that trade in oppression and violence.” Kerry Walters and Robin Jarrell

” . . . a person is considered righteous
by what they do and not by faith alone.”
James 2:24 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Does your version of Christianity address the powers of ego, possession, and violence?
  • What powerful, petrified institutions trade in oppression and violence where you live?
  • Imagine living with the guilt of “belonging to a nation that willingly collaborated with mass murderers.” Do you honestly face up to the shadow side of your country’s history?

Father, may I be a mystic who makes a difference in this world of people loved by you.

For More: The Silent Cry. Dorothee Soelle. Trans. Barbara and Martin Rumscheldt. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2001.

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“Indiscriminate Hospitality” (Dorothy Day and Robert Ellsberg)

For Dorothy Day . . . “spirituality and her social witness were equally rooted in the radical implications of the Incarnation. In Christ God assumed our humanity. And we could not worship God without honoring God’s image in our fellow human beings. We should feed them when they were hungry; shelter them when they were homeless. We should not torture them; we should not kill them. In the 1950s Day and the Catholic Worker took on a more activist profile. She was repeatedly jailed for refusing to take shelter during compulsory civil defense drills in New York City. In the 1960s her activities reflected the turbulence of the times—protesting the Vietnam War, fasting in Rome during the Second Vatican Council to advance the cause of peace. She was last arrested while picketing with the United Farm Workers in 1973 at the age of seventy-five. By this time she was widely honored as the radical conscience of the American Catholic church. But her life was not primarily occupied by activism or protest. She was a woman of prayer, beginning each day with meditation on scripture, attending daily Mass, and reciting the breviary [daily psalms, scripture readings, and prayers]. By and large, her life was spent in very ordinary ways, her sanctity expressed not just in heroic deeds but in the mundane duties of everyday life. Her ‘spirituality’ was rooted in a constant effort to be more charitable toward those closest at hand.” Robert Ellsberg

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement
give you the same attitude of mind toward each other
that Christ Jesus had . . . .” Rom. 15:5 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Imagine the cognitive dissonance required to claim faith in God, while at the same time torturing or killing creatures made by God, loved by God, precious to God.
  • The simple daily life of Dorothy Day was both “ordinary” and “heroic” because she practiced something “ordinary” (hospitality) in a “heroic” manner (indiscriminately). Can you be indiscriminate when it comes to hospitality?
  • Is there a quiet, prayerful side of your life that enables you to rise to the mundane duties of everyday life in a simple, and perhaps even sometimes, heroic way?

God, help me to honor those you love without any preconditions.

For More: Modern Spiritual Masters: Writings on Contemplation and Compassion. Ed. Robert Ellsberg. New York: Maryknoll: 2008.

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Thanks for reading my blog. Please extend my reach by reposting on your social media platforms. If you like these topics and this approach, you’ll like my book Wisdom From the Margins.