“El Salvador: Another Vietnam,” A Reflection by Loriana Harkey

As we near the 25th anniversary of the murder of the Jesuit/UCA Martyrs, there are numerous events on campus to inform students of history behind this tragic day. In the 1981 film titled El Salvador: Another Vietnam, I learned core similarities between the war in El Salvador and the Vietnam War. Because the film was made before 1989, the Jesuit martyrs were still alive, but this film provided a solid background and understanding of why the murder would occur in the near future. Dr. Tom Kelly also further explained concepts that were brought up in the film.

One key similarity between the two wars was the use of the counterinsurgency method. This is when both combatants and their supporters, which includes innocent, unarmed people, are killed alike. Dr. Kelly compared this to the saying, “If you drain the pond, the fish will die.” Though we are not proud of it, the U.S. used this method during the Vietnam and El Salvador wars.

The war began when there was a group that disagreed with the Salvadoran government. There were people who supported the government, and there were those against it. Those against it were called guerrillas, or rebels. These guerrillas had no mercy on anyone associated with the government. They destroyed anything and anyone in their path. Similar to the rebels in Vietnam, they started in the sky and bombed people overhead from planes. Then, they came to the ground as groundtroopers and shot anything they saw.

In the film, college students just leaving class fell facedown on the ground to beg for mercy and not be harmed. Some even played dead. These attacks were much more severe than drive-by shootings. They were thorough, well thought out plans of murder, mutilation and destruction. Though some families were able to flee to Honduras, the remaining families were undoubtedly massacred. The guerrillas used tactics to get you to leave before killing you. One way, according to Dr. Kelly, was to take your child and cut his or her arm off in hopes that this traumatic experience would cause you to leave or join their side. To this day, there are still Salvadorans with only one arm. In one case, 136 bodies were found in a church, and 120 of them were children. But that is not the most depressing part. These children did not die of gunshot wounds, but of machete wounds. One woman from the film teared up as she retold the story of what happened to her son. He worked in agricultural business, a job completely unaffiliated with supporting or going against the government, yet he was taken by guerillas to the top of a mountain and cut into pieces. Needless to say, these deaths were highly gruesome.

Seeing these images from the film reminded me of the Holocaust. The limp lifeless bodies just piled like packages really helped me understand and have much empathy toward the devastating and plain evil nature of this war. Under President Carter, the U.S. eventually sent help to El Salvador and from 1971 to 1981 to train El Salvador soldiers. From 1980 to 1981, the U.S. sent more money to El Salvador than they had ever received in the past. Unfortunately, the money was not put fully to good use as the U.S. intended. Because the Salvadoran military officers received 1 million dollars a day from the U.S. during the war, they basically gave the guerillas weapons because as long as the war continued, the officers would keep getting money from the U.S. When a country is not financially secure, money-hungry actions such as this are bound to occur.

Though the Vietnam War did not exactly match the outcome of the war in El Salvador, the film and Dr. Kelly’s explanations show that even a couple of similarities, like the counterinsurgency method and no mercy fighting style, can be a red flag that any country is going down a fatal path.

For more information about the 25th anniversary of the Jesuit/UCA Martyrs, visit http://blogs.creighton.edu/jesuitjustice/

Exit, Pursued by a Bear: Director’s Notes

This week, our External Communications Chair Emma Rasmussen is making her directorial debut with Creighton Theatre’s production of the one-act play “Exit, Pursued by a Bear,” which will be performed with another one-act “Gladys” this week, Oct 9-11 at 7:30 pm and Oct. 12 at 2 pm at the Lied Center. Here are Emma’s director’s notes on the play:

“This bear, exit, whatever… show you’re directing… what’s it about?”

I so love getting asked this question, because, one, I am actually (pinch myself) directing a show, and two, my answer tends to catch people off guard. I begin, “Well you see, its a smart, funny revenge comedy…” The person I’m talking to smiles and nods. We’re doing well! Smartness! Revenge! Comedy! “…that deals with the issue of domestic abuse.” Yeah, that’s a plot twist. Some people are fascinated, but many are uncomfortable, confused, or even take offense. Our conversation ends as soon as it began. I get it. Domestic violence is by not exactly good passing conversation. The bear in the room, if you will. Not something anyone wants to talk about. However, that silence is a significant part of the problem.

Domestic abuse is perpetuated by a culture of silence and suppression: suppression of victims’ voices, and of the female story as a whole. One in four women in the U.S. will experience domestic abuse at some point in their lives. One in four. Y’all, that is unacceptable. That is something that we need to be talking about.

This show is the beginning of Nan’s conversation with all of us. And it ain’t your average bear of a conversation either. It comes with a side of expository theatre, your friendly neighborhood stripper, and maybe even a laugh or twenty. My hope is, this is a conversation you’ll be glad you stuck around for.

In the words of Simon, my favorite male cheerleader, BRING ON THE BEAR.

All the best,

Emma Rasmussen

THINK: (Global) Reality Check

Take this income calculator that compares your yearly income to the rest of the world.

http://www.globalrichlist.com/

This is a good (global) reality check. Guilt is not, however, the intended outcome. An increased understanding of our wealth, prosperity, power, privilege, and the like should push us to empathetic, creative, and empowering action. Sitting in guilt for what we have is, finally, it’s own kind of privilege, and it is not life-giving or inspired.

 

Think Thursday: Words from Gabrielle Giffords

Today I was going to write about the U.S Senate’s failure to pass legislation requiring background checks for gun purchases. Then I saw this editorial in the Washington Post. The following column was written by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the former U.S. Representative from Arizona who was shot in the head two years ago, sparking the public debate over legislative reform in this area. I think her words should take precedence over mine tonight. Please read them and reflect on her call to us as residents of this nation. This week the U.S. Senate heard the overwhelming opinion of their constituents and plainly said, “no.”

-Westin

A Senate in the Gun Lobby’s Grip

Published in the Washington Post

SENATORS say they fear the N.R.A. and the gun lobby. But I think that fear must be nothing compared to the fear the first graders in Sandy Hook Elementary School felt as their lives ended in a hail of bullets. The fear that those children who survived the massacre must feel every time they remember their teachers stacking them into closets and bathrooms, whispering that they loved them, so that love would be the last thing the students heard if the gunman found them.

On Wednesday, a minority of senators gave into fear and blocked common-sense legislation that would have made it harder for criminals and people with dangerous mental illnesses to get hold of deadly firearms — a bill that could prevent future tragedies like those in Newtown, Conn., Aurora, Colo., Blacksburg, Va., and too many communities to count.

Some of the senators who voted against the background-check amendments have met with grieving parents whose children were murdered at Sandy Hook, in Newtown. Some of the senators who voted no have also looked into my eyes as I talked about my experience being shot in the head at point-blank range in suburban Tucson two years ago, and expressed sympathy for the 18 other people shot besides me, 6 of whom died. These senators have heard from their constituents — who polls show overwhelmingly favored expanding background checks. And still these senators decided to do nothing. Shame on them.

I watch TV and read the papers like everyone else. We know what we’re going to hear: vague platitudes like “tough vote” and “complicated issue.” I was elected six times to represent southern Arizona, in the State Legislature and then in Congress. I know what a complicated issue is; I know what it feels like to take a tough vote. This was neither. These senators made their decision based on political fear and on cold calculations about the money of special interests like the National Rifle Association, which in the last election cycle spent around $25 million on contributions, lobbying and outside spending.

Speaking is physically difficult for me. But my feelings are clear: I’m furious. I will not rest until we have righted the wrong these senators have done, and until we have changed our laws so we can look parents in the face and say: We are trying to keep your children safe. We cannot allow the status quo — desperately protected by the gun lobby so that they can make more money by spreading fear and misinformation — to go on.

I am asking every reasonable American to help me tell the truth about the cowardice these senators demonstrated. I am asking for mothers to stop these lawmakers at the grocery store and tell them: You’ve lost my vote. I am asking activists to unsubscribe from these senators’ e-mail lists and to stop giving them money. I’m asking citizens to go to their offices and say: You’ve disappointed me, and there will be consequences.

People have told me that I’m courageous, but I have seen greater courage. Gabe Zimmerman, my friend and staff member in whose honor we dedicated a room in the United States Capitol this week, saw me shot in the head and saw the shooter turn his gunfire on others. Gabe ran toward me as I lay bleeding. Toward gunfire. And then the gunman shot him, and then Gabe died. His body lay on the pavement in front of the Safeway for hours.

I have thought a lot about why Gabe ran toward me when he could have run away. Service was part of his life, but it was also his job. The senators who voted against background checks for online and gun-show sales, and those who voted against checks to screen out would-be gun buyers with mental illness, failed to do their job.

They looked at these most benign and practical of solutions, offered by moderates from each party, and then they looked over their shoulder at the powerful, shadowy gun lobby — and brought shame on themselves and our government itself by choosing to do nothing.

They will try to hide their decision behind grand talk, behind willfully false accounts of what the bill might have done — trust me, I know how politicians talk when they want to distract you — but their decision was based on a misplaced sense of self-interest. I say misplaced, because to preserve their dignity and their legacy, they should have heeded the voices of their constituents. They should have honored the legacy of the thousands of victims of gun violence and their families, who have begged for action, not because it would bring their loved ones back, but so that others might be spared their agony.

This defeat is only the latest chapter of what I’ve always known would be a long, hard haul. Our democracy’s history is littered with names we neither remember nor celebrate — people who stood in the way of progress while protecting the powerful. On Wednesday, a number of senators voted to join that list.

Mark my words: if we cannot make our communities safer with the Congress we have now, we will use every means available to make sure we have a different Congress, one that puts communities’ interests ahead of the gun lobby’s. To do nothing while others are in danger is not the American way.

-Gabrielle Giffords

THINK: Emotion in Education

“If the communicative body is about the sharing of others’ embodied experience in their pleasure and happiness as well as their unease or suffering, emotion is absolutely fundamental to its functioning as embodied subject. So we need to find a way of better understanding emotion in human embodiment, and most particularly of attending to the social dimension of emotion. This suggests that a certain kind of education needs to be undergone and that all aspects of educational theory, practice and policy would need to be reassessed.” -Emily O’Loughlin, “Education and Embodiment”

How present is emotion in your education? What role does it play? What is the “social dimension” of your emotion? In what ways is emotion suppressed in intellectual traditions? How do you feel about that? 😉

THINK: Wealth Disparity in the U.S.

Yesterday, people were sharing all kinds of great resources on the Cortina Facebook group, so I thought we might put them on the blog for the world to see.

Check out this great video about the mis-perceptions we have about wealth inequality in our country. It lays out the the real numbers, the ideal numbers, and the perceived numbers to compare them with some great visual representations. (Chuch shared this one!)

Here is an interactive map of income and rent for every neighborhood in the U.S. (Elizabeth shared this one!)

What does this mean for us? How can we be more aware of the reality in order to think more creatively about solutions?

THINK: Higher Love

“The highest form of love is the love that allows for intimacy without the annihilation of difference.”  -Parker Palmer

In what relationships in your life do you see the “highest love”? Where could you pray for/cry out concerning/pursue a more loving relationship? How does loving someone “selflessly” necessitate the understanding of difference? How can we “love others as we love ourselves” while acknowledging that doesn’t necessitate any sort of similarity except common humanity? What is the place of difference in our love? Where does difference interfere with intimacy? Should it?

THINK: Creative Classrooms

My Dearest Cortinians. Since you have a snow day, take some time to absorb and enjoy these videos on education.

Tyler DeWitt on making science fun.
This talk brings up an idea that I have been frustrated with throughout my studies as a biology major—the “cult of seriousness.” I want to be able to learn about the world around me in a way that allows me to share that information with other people. This leads to a problem of accuracy versus comprehensibility. Tyler is a PhD student at MIT, and so understands the need for clear, accurate language between scientists. But when this language gets in the way of his teaching he makes funny videos instead.

Sir Ken Robinson on changing educational paradigms.
Sir Ken demonstrates that what schools need today is creativity, and how they came to be lacking in it in the first place. Also, it is animated on a whiteboard and gives a shout out to Jesuit education. Do you think creativity is more important than test scores?

John Hunter’s world peace game
John Hunter has recruited his 4th graders to solve the world’s problems in creative but realistic ways. It’s worth watching just for looking at the 4-foot tall multilayer game “board.”

What are your ideas for a creative classroom? What learning environment has impacted you the most? How can you bring your gifts and talents into the world of education?

-Lauren D.

THINK: Fall in Love

You might think that Valentine’s Day is superfluous or silly (and I might agree with you), but perhaps a new way to think about love on this over-commercialized day:

Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than
falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.

-Pedro Arrupe, SJ

What are you in love with? What seizes your imagination? What do you do with your nights and weekends? Why do you get up in the morning? How do you sustain love?