Father Ben Peace2019 Urmston Peace2019

Guest Blogger

Father Benjamin J. Urmston, S.J., is the director emeritus of Peace and Justice Programs at Xavier University. Father Urmston has been a guiding force of peace and justice issues at Xavier University. In 1943 Fr. Ben came to Xavier as an undergraduate and entered the Army. He was in Patton's army in Europe, also in the Philippine Islands. While in the Philippines, Fr. Ben decided to become a Jesuit and in 1946 he entered the Jesuit Novitiate. Then in 1971, he made his return to Xavier University where he became an instructor of Theology, focusing his teachings on international issues, human rights, and non-violent solutions to the problems of the world. In 1977 he began Faith and Justice Forum, a weekly radio talk show which continued at WVXU until 2005.

​Father Finn's Manifesto: America First

Blog Author Fr Ben Urmston, SJ in Bellarmine Chapel on the campus of Xavier University
Citizens for Global Solutions aims to move our world toward a just, democratic, and war-free global community.  To make the necessary modifications in the existing external structures to reach that goal, it is necessary to pay attention also to internal values like openness and cooperation.
 
Attending to the manifesto of Father Francis J. Finn, SJ (1859-1928), could help promote the values that would lead us all in the right direction.  During his life he was principal of a grade school, an assistant pastor, and author of 27 novels for young people.  Those children’s stories have heroes who display strong spiritual values, leadership, and breadth of interests.
 
His manifesto posted on the wall of his office at a grade school in Cincinnati reads as follows:
         
AMERICA FIRST 
Not merely in matters material, but in things of the spirit.
Not merely in science, inventions, motors, and skyscrapers, but also in ideals, principles, character.
Not merely in the calm assertion of rights, but in the glad assumption of duties.
Not flaunting her strength as a giant, but bending in helpfulness over a sick and wounded world like a Good Samaritan.
Not in splendid isolation, but in courageous cooperation.
Not in pride, arrogance, and disdain of other races and peoples, but in sympathy, love, and understanding.
And so, in that spirit and with these hopes, I say with all my heart and soul, “AMERICA FIRST."
 

A Vision of Hope

Fr Ben and friends at the celebration of his Sustainability Hero award at Xavier University

In the Commonweal magazine article “Protect Thy Neighbor” (June 21, 2016) authors Mark J. Allman and Tobias Winright echo the Catholic Catechism when they say: “If and when the day ever comes when war is abolished—and like all Catholics, we pray for the arrival of that day.”

Catholics are urged by the Catechism (#2307) not only to pray for the day when war is abolished, but work to end it.  “Because of the evils and injustices that accompany all war the Church insistently urges everyone to prayer and to action so that the divine Goodness may free us from the ancient bondage of war.”

Forty years after the Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson said “Laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. ... [They] must advance ... and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”

What should humanity do now to exchange our old clothes of the past for something more appropriate for today's world?  I propose that we commit ourselves to advancing love over hate and hope over despair.  We should strive to implement structures that will make our planet sustainable and our human family more ethical and moral.  We should practice active non-violence and wage peace rather than war.  We should seek to establish security and justice for all.  We should develop a global community where basic human rights are protected and greater economic equity is implemented.  We should create a democratic world federation that would be a legal governing body for the Family of Nations.  That is an ideal for humanity that has been advocated by many, including in several official pronouncements of the Catholic Church.

A Miracle?

https://russell.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/congressman-russell-says-congress-must-soberly-and-deliberately-review

There are those who think the U.S. suffers from prejudice against Obama, competition between political parties, bullies who have the ability to exert power, and vast financial inequality with only limited democracy left. 

In my humble opinion, the human family hasn’t acted rationally since the beginning of World War I.  Thus it comes as no surprise that an agreement with Iran approved by so many experts and groups looks like it will fail.

The Iran agreement makes war or some form of coercion less likely. The agreement will improve our relations with Iran, Israel, and other nations. 

Voting against the agreement makes us look foolish and irrational. Without the deal, nuclear militarization and international strife will be more likely. The human family will have more needless conflict and differences.

I hope this take on evil and prejudice is incorrect. I hope reason and humanity prevail over deep-seated emotion and unacknowledged evil.