Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Home Sweet Home

   Gaston Hall at Georgetown University has a special place in my heart, soul and memory because of some service held there in conjunction with my law school graduation over 25 years ago so whenever I get an invitation to go back to listen to any lecture or for any event I am honored,  humbled and can't believe such a magnificent place exists each time I go there.

   Today was a particularly beautiful day because Georgetown has launched  with a lecture a Global Initiative cross -disciplinary series in which they will address through study, research, and lectures the pressing issues of the day on Development, Governance, Security and Environment/Global Climate Change/Warming.

Georgetown was founded of course originally by a Bishop and staffed with a bunch of French Jesuits,  things I am extremely fond of- Jesuits and French people. Staring at the wall in the front waiting for the World Bank Group President to address the collection of academicians, community leaders and supporters and students, I noticed for the first time the words painted at the top of the wall spelled "WISDOM" and painted just below that "Ad Majorim Dei Gloriam."   The later phrase is the Jesuit mantra meaning all for the greater glory of God. The two phrases go together- the greatest wisdom is found in action, contemplation, study, and all activity done for the greater glory of God. That was nowhere more evident than today when the President of Georgetown Jack DeGoia presented the President of the World Bank Group, Dr. Jim Kim, who spoke without notes for a solid long stretch on how the Bank is combatting global pandemics (Ebola, Aids, etc.)  and poverty. Here is where practical real world "Kingdom Come" work meets the wisdom of two college Presidents (the World Bank President was President of Dartmouth prior to coming to DC).  Georgetown has a mission to make the love of God real for the whole world which in a real practical sense involves saving it. And here was the gauntlet laid down for all listening, attending, blogging from afar and watching on c-span or wherever those cameras were from: THIS IS THE GENERATION THAT CAN ERADICATE POVERTY IN THEIR LIFETIME. It is possible. And the World Bank President dares everyone to coordinate in a cross disciplinary way to do it.  Dr. Jim Kim spoke about how much health efforts in Africa keeping people alive in the face of global pandemics have helped the economies of countries affected by Aids and Ebola outbreaks.

     The World Bank President has an American accent, and was  raised in Iowa (where my grandparents were from).  Its probably my (admitted) American bias that I assumed he wouldn't have an American accent but a Korean one just from photos I saw of him. I recognize that form of perhaps not so subtle bias, but Dr. Jim Kim wants us to recognize a far more insidious form of unsubtle bias, a mind-mold that says we can't do anything to save millions of Africans, so why try. It's Africa after all. He is brilliant, also an infectious disease medical doctor and he noted that it was possible to successfully treat people if you asked basic questions like are the drugs that cure or manage this on or off patent, can they be made generically cheaply (In India??) rather than be resigned to not treating people because of the cost of western drugs. He isn't a man who takes 'can't' for an answer.

    Georgetown is a beautiful place. Not just because of the softly falling snow on the lawn that will sprout rose bushes in the Spring, but because of the Spirit of the people there who involve the best and the brightest around Washington to challenge people to think what is possible, what is worthy and what can we do together to change the world to bring His Kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven.

  Someone pinch me. World Bank Group President meets Georgetown President under a wall painted "WISDOM" .  God must be smiling.


Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Freedom of the Press and people who can't take a joke.

   The French equivalent of masked gunmen storming with bombs and rifles Comedy Central headquarters and assassinating John Stewart, Stephen Colbert and John Oliver happened in Paris.
The Charlie Hebdo cartoonists were the French national heroes of political satire sacred cow lampooning.
An entire press office was blasted off the earth. This has been called France's 9-11.

Whoever did this heinous disgusting atrocity regardless of motive are the lowest life form that ever existed. As Satire is essential in and to democracy it seems an assault on democracy itself.

Former French Justice Minister Robert Badinter has called the editorial cartoonists France's 'soldiers of liberty.' Massive crowds have gathered all over Paris intoning "Je Suis Charlie" in solidarity. Candles are lit, banner waiving and chanting is heard around Paris' classic landmarks in protest.

Tomorrow France has declared a National Day of Mourning.

The Washington Post will publish some of Charlie Hebdos cartoons in solidarity.

Statements of condemnation of the acts have issued from no less than the Pope, French Imams,
President Hollande, Obama, NY Governor Cuomo and many other dignitaries who appreciate the gravity of the act.

We don't know the motives of these gunmen for certain or whether they acted on their own or were put up to it by someone or thing. But we do know what happened which is enough to say how very sad
and sorry that Paris and France experienced such a nightmare.

What do you say to a country when such an event takes place. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Be Brave. Do not be Afraid. We are with you. Yes, all of that. Transatlantic hugs, wish we were with you now, prayers for your safety and peace.

Most of all we wish to say however awkwardly diplomatically, We Love You Still and Always Will.

Je Suis Charlie Comme Toi.