Magazine article Momentum

Frontiers of Justice Generates A Global Community

Magazine article Momentum

Frontiers of Justice Generates A Global Community

Article excerpt

A strong global community based on solidarity...can help to create great achievements in peace, innovations and a society that follows in the footsteps of Jesus

In 1998, my Albanian father mailed me news clippings about rising tension in a little-known region of Yugoslavia-Kosovo. Tired of the controls placed on them by the Serbdominated government, the 90 percent Albanian majority began protesting. When the Serbs pushed back, the Albanians pushed harder. Violence erupted. The story concerned me, but work and distance shoved Kosovo deep into the bottom of my heart.

While I lived my life as other Americans, Kosovor Albanians fought a revolution against the genocidal acts of Slobodan Milosevic. Finally, I received a clipping describing the death of Albanian freedom fighter Agem Jashari (deemed a terrorist by Serbia), who was killed along with dozens of his family members in his house by a Serbian paramilitary assault. My father sent this particular news clipping a week before his own death. After that I lost contact with news from Kosovo.

In the meantime, the United States and its NATO allies began bombing Serbian sites. Whatever your belief is of the bombing, the Kosovo Albanians cheered them. In their view, the United States witnessed a humanitarian crisis and acted. That action saved lives and helped build solidarity between Kosovo and America. Today, along with the efforts of the international community, Kosovo is reinventing itself into a productive state.

Eight years later, I came across Frontiers of Justice (FOJ)-a partnership between the NCEA secondary Schools Department and Catholic Relief Services (CRS). As I researched, I discovered that FOJ is a funded study tour that provides six Catholic secondary school educators the opportunity to visit a developing country on a study tour that includes both education and CRS development projects. When I found out that FOJ was traveling to Kosovo, I knew I had to be a part of it.

Grounded in Catholic Social Teaching

In time, I began my journey with five other teachers. Together we committed ourselves to learning about the past and present in Kosovo and to building bonds in Kosovo and communicating those bonds back home-all driven by the engine of Catholic social teaching.

As I studied for the trip, I read literature on Catholic social teaching. Call it the Holy Spirit or whatever you wish, but through this literature on Catholic social teaching, I gained a new appreciation for Catholicism. I read about reaching out to the poor. I read about including all human beings, even if they lived outside the United States. What I read proved to me that Christianity promotes loving principles-ideas that did not seem to be getting through the mainstream Christian voices.

Between the mission of CRS and the words of Catholic social teaching, I found a very enjoyable message. It was positive. It was inclusive. It was humbling. It called us to loving action. Among the ideas I read about were solidarity and community. Within the principles of Catholic social teaching is written "Human beings...are called to live in community and to use their gifts.. .for the common good." Catholic Relief Services states, "We are part of one human family-whatever our national, racial, religious, economic or ideological differences-and in an increasingly interconnected world, loving our neighbor has global dimensions."

What fantastic revelation! So simple, yet so difficult to accept and achieve, because often our 21st-century culture contradicts these ideals. In fact, why care for these values at all? What benefits are there? What's in it for me? Kosovo proved a good answer to these questions.

Kosovo is a divisive region. Its final status is still up in the air and in regions such as Mitrovica, tensions between Serbs and Albanians run high. The Ibar River splits the city into Serb North and Albanian South. People have been beaten and killed on both sides. …

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