So in November I helped arrange a trip to the School of the Americas protest, and when I came back I did a reflection at Mass. I came across the reflection again and I thought why keep it on my computer? So I thought I'd post it here in a note for all to see. So if you want to know how the protest went, well, here you go =) And I HOPE this might encourage some folks to go next November!
SOA at Mass
Good Morning, my name is Becky Doucette and I am the Student Social Justice Coordinator here at Campus Ministry. Before I even received this job, the School of the Americas, also known as SOA, was on everyone’s lips. I heard snip-it’s here and there, but it was of a distant world to me. Then when I officially came into this position, I was handed a box of reading materials on the SOA. I began organizing awareness events, movie showings, and nonviolence training sessions to prepare for this event. Again- this remained a distant project to me.
After preparing for 2 months, I found myself waking up at 6am to catch a bus to Georgia. While on the bus with St. Kate’s, St. Thomas, and St. Martin’s Table I heard stories of the whole hearted commitment to closing the SOA and I immediately felt out of place. I felt I did not make this commitment and was only there because it was simply my paycheck. I was distanced with the cause and the community.
Now let me tell you, after sitting and watching the world change outside the windows for 24 hours, something changes you. We arrived at Fort Benning with an excited fear. I was excited, and was never afraid because I thought I knew, I was sure of it. I was listening attentively to Nils at the front of the bus as he gave us tips and instructions. Well, I was listening, until the bus turned towards the gates. Looking outside the window was a banner to greet us, stating “Our soldiers need Americans, not Socialist Liberals.”
This is when fear caught up with me. The man holding up this huge pink banner, waved at me, looking me right in the eye, and smiling. Smiling as if he knew me. I was in fear because it was finally present. And I knew that if I let this single man get to me, let him instill this fear, I will be giving him power over me. I made the commitment to stay, and that commitment alone allowed me to understand, at least on the surface, those whom have suffered from SOA graduates. Many don’t even get the choice like I did.
After leaving, I never felt welcomed by the state of Georgia, but I was welcomed by a community there. Being here now, if there is anything I can express, is that SOA is present and alive. SOA is not just overseas, not just 24 hours away, it is also here. I made the commitment to go, and mourn for those who have died or suffered from the graduates. But this battle is not over. As I am no longer at this protest, it will continue to linger with me. As the 2nd part of my commitment, I must be present for those who are continuing to suffer today, or who are living in fear from their own military and government officials.
Looking back on the Gospel today, take note that God did not go to the emperors, the senate, and the government officials. God went to John to proclaim the word, and John was not a faint cry in a desert. The words became a constant, continuous cry throughout the wilderness, throughout the lands. Please help me continue this cry for justice, for peace, and become fully aware that this is present in your life.