“No Justice, No Peace”

Cheesefest PictureGuest Chat – Eric Rivera, PC ’16

You may be wondering what happened outside your window last night. Why were a group of students walking around campus with signs and chanting “No Justice, No Peace”? Last night was another instance that showed me why Providence College is the best place in the world. Last night, the news came out that Darren Wilson, the officer that shot and killed Mike Brown, will not be indicted. Many people, including myself, were absolutely outraged because of this news. Personally, I was frustrated to the point where I needed to seclude myself. I use this as a method to fully reflect and try to process difficult information. This information was difficult for me to understand because I do not understand why somebody will not be going to trial for murdering another human being. After learning about the news I took a walk to the BMSA office where other students were talking about what had just occurred. While sitting in the office I received an email from one of my classmates and a fellow leader on campus, Kadene Pitter ’16, saying that there would be a peaceful protest starting on the Slavin Lawn at midnight. The time was exactly 11:30PM when I received the email. I read the email to the rest of the people in the room, and a rush of excitement ran through my veins. It was beautiful to see a student-run movement be organized in 30 minutes. We are creating our own voice in a society where it is so easy to feel like we are silenced.

I arrived to Slavin Lawn at midnight and saw a few students ready to march. I was skeptical due to a small showing of people and the lack of preparation but at 12:10, after setting a few ground rules, the small group of Providence College students began to march. “Black lives matter” and “No Justice, No Peace” rang through Slavin Lawn and the upper quad. The feeling of solidarity was beautiful. This feeling completely took over my body and made me forget about all of my nerves, fear, and hesitation. Seeing our group grow and hearing the chants get louder put me in awe. The way the small group materialized into a huge crowd of people walking for the same purpose was inspiring. This peaceful protest was an example of our PC students from all walks of life coming together for a cause. This was an amazing display of diversity and how our diverse group of people was able to put differences aside so that similarities could create something special. It is very easy to put yourself into a category based on your interests and who you feel comfortable around, but this protest took us all out of our comfort zones and brought us all together. We truly came together as a “Friar Family”.

This Friar Family kept walking around campus yelling chants such as, “Justice for Mike Brown” and “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot”. We walked from Slavin to the chapel, then found ourselves walking in front of Guzman crossing Huxley Avenue onto lower campus, we then passed Davis, Bedford, and Suites, and eventually walked through the Fennell gates, and walked along Eaton Street going towards upper campus. Our group then walked back to the chapel, up towards Harkins Hall and eventually out of the main gate on River Avenue. From the main gate we walked up Eaton Street behind Al Mag and Ruane. Our March took a turn behind the library to head back to the quad where our protest concluded with a few words from the students that coordinated the event. Throughout these 40 minutes we were able to let our lights shine by standing together and expressing our opinions about an injustice that occurred last night. We stood in solidarity for the loss of Mike Brown. Today I am proud to be a Friar.

I’d like to thank Kadene Pitter and the others that set up this peaceful protest. You are amazing, and your initiative is something I envy. It isn’t easy to organize a group of people that are filled with anger and rage to peacefully display their emotions and opinions, but you were able to do so in a short amount of time and make this protest a huge success. Shout out to you. I would like to thank everybody that was a part of this protest and was able to help create a night that I will never forget. For everybody that is out there wondering where we go from here, I encourage you to stay positive. I know it’s hard to believe right now after this decision and many decisions in the pastm but as the chorus of Tupac’s famous song, Keep Ya Head Up goes, “Oh child, things are gonna get easier. Oh child, things will get brighter.” Enjoy your Thanksgiving breaks, tell your families you love them, and remain positive. Go Friars!


Eric Rivera junior from San Diego, CA. He is majoring in Political Science and minoring in Public Administration, Spanish, and Economics. He takes pride in being an RA, a devoted member of BMSA, and a student coordinator for the Horizons Retreat. Eric cares about creating community and promoting the Friar Family.  

Advertisements

“Someday” is Right Now


DefaultUncroppedMegan Grammatico ’15

I had a very thought-provoking conversation with a sophomore that I was working with in the Writing Center a few days ago. She was stressing about her study abroad application, due in a few short weeks, and she asked me if I had gone abroad. When I told her that I had spent some of the best months of my junior year (and my life, if we’re being honest) in Copenhagen, Denmark, her face fell a little. “Everyone keeps SAYING that,” she said, almost exasperatedly. “But there’s so much to worry about here—I’ll just travel someday when I’m older. I have to plan my classes and make my double major work and study for the LSAT and and and…” I listened, and nodded empathetically, and told her I understood, because I did. That girl, the freaked out one that has her life planned for the next five years, that makes a schedule broken down by hour because it’s the only way she can be absolutely sure not to drop any of the million-and-one-balls she has in the air at any given time—she was me. She was me, and she was stressed out and unhappy and so worried about planning her life that she was forgetting to actually live it. I wish I had had time to explain to her what living abroad had meant for me, how much it changed me, but the appointment ended, and I mumbled some tired cliché about seizing opportunities that present themselves, and we both headed off to the next thing on our to-do lists.

I thought about this girl all day, and all of the things that I wished I had said to her. I wish I had told her about the jumble of excitement and terror you feel when you wave goodbye to your sobbing mom and cheerfully waving dad at the airport gate. I wish I had told her about the feeling on that first morning, when you wake up confused because it’s five a.m and you’ve never woken up so early on your own and the snow is swirling outside and you’re so out of your element, out of your comfort zone, that you want to crawl back in bed for the day but the excited part of you insists on waking up, on getting started. I wish I had told her about buying a bike from a random Swiss graduate student, and learning to ride said bike in downtown Copenhagen traffic. I wish I had told her about the incredible friends you make; the visiting family parents that start to feel like your own parents, only better because they always seem to be refilling your wine glass. I wish so much that I had told her how empowering it is to plan a trip to a place you’ve only read about in books, to budget and figure out details and logistics and landmarks, only to wind up winging it, asking strangers for directions in badly accented French that you sort of remember from middle school, and sleeping on the floor of a one room flat with some of the best friends you’ll ever have. I wish I could have told her that map-reading is actually a pretty valuable life skill, that Wi-Fi is never to be taken for granted, that you absolutely can wear the exact same thing you wore yesterday, just as long as you change your scarf. I wish I had told her that you should do one thing every single day that terrifies you, even if it is jumping in the frozen ocean in the middle of February because that’s what the local people do.

On the plane ride home from Copenhagen, I read a quote that stuck with me. Terry Pratchett, the author of A Hat Full of Sky, says:

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving”

Pratchett is right. Though I don’t live in Copenhagen anymore, and I don’t spend my weekends and exploring Europe, I try, everyday, to live the way that I did when I was all of those places. I think that you should try it too. Stop planning every second of everyday. Stop to notice sunsets, and resist the urge to Instagram them. Linger over meals to talk a little bit longer with people that love you. Do something scary, or do something brave, or do something you’ve always wanted to do but could never quite find the time. I can’t tell you what those things are. They’re different for everyone.

Most of all, most importantly, stop living for someday. We all do it; the conversation in our heads usually goes a little something like this “I’ll be happy once finals are over, or I finish this paper, or once I find a job for next year, or get accepted to graduate school or finally meet someone I really like—then I’ll have time to be happy”. Though I could have told the girl in the Writing Center hours of stories about the joys of living abroad, what I really wish I had told her is this: “someday” is right now. “Someday” is happening this very minute, not tomorrow or next week or next year. “Someday” is very quickly going to become yesterday, and what you can do right now is make sure it’s worth remembering.

52%: a Bazaar Opportunity

shoot3“God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”   -Genesis 1:28

Do you know what the most dangerous animal on the planet is? You. Yes you! Congratulations. We’re there! We did it! With the World Wildlife Foundation reporting that since 1970 humans have wiped out 52% of all wildlife on planet earth we can successfully say it has been subdued. As a recent article from The Telegraph describes, “Almost the entire decline is down to human activity, through habitat loss, deforestation, climate change, over-fishing and hunting.”

But of course the earth hasn’t been subdued. It has been inundated. It has been overwhelmed. And it is responding with unstable weather patterns and climate changes. This is climate chaos, and our dwindling biodiversity is leaving us at tremendous risk of a systems collapse. There is a reflexive nature to our actions in this world and the more we subjugate what’s wild around us the more precarious our own situation becomes.

You might think things are observably OK because you saw five or six squirrels on your way to your 1 o’clock class, but even those grey squirrels aren’t naturally occurring in this urban area and were put here by our ancestors to ease our spirits.

I don’t know about you but sometimes I can’t fall asleep, my mind preoccupied by the quandary of the human mission on earth. Certainly I am proud of my species – man which surpasses man – and of what we have accomplished. But I can’t help  interpreting these facts as a reflection of our skewed execution of the Genesis Model: rather than becoming stewards to creation we have become masters of disaster.

So I’ve hatched a plan, and I’m going to need your help. Over the next four days I will be collecting all of the clothes you no longer  want or need, and then on Saturday I’m going to sell them back to you. That’s right, this is the  Providence Exchange Vintage Bazaar  and it’s an opportunity for our community to unite in an effort to challenge our own habits and protect the environment. At PC we spend quite a bit of money on new clothing and by shopping at corporate retailers which contributes to the destruction of the environment through industrial capitalism. This week I am asking you to donate your old clothes and shoes to me (but not coats – save those for a warm coat drive!) before Friday. Then, on Saturday, you are invited to come to the Bazaar at the Unity Center in Lower Slavin and shop through the clothing that our Friar Family has compiled. All proceeds will go to the World Wildlife Foundation. The Providence Exchange Vintage Bazaar takes what has historically been an American method of coping with crisis (consumerism) and inverts its negative impact (if only for a day). Why not donate directly to folks in need? Well, in a sense you will be. Everything is connected, and the folks who are typically marginalized for socio-economic reasons are also the folks who are disproportionately at risk of experiencing the perils of climate chaos. Fight hunger, fight war, fight the (literally) rising tide. Go shopping on Saturday.

Oh, and you’ll have one more opportunity, and this is perhaps the most important part of all.

On Saturday, at the Bazaar, we’ll be kicking off a campaign to petition for the creation of a Council for Climate Change Preparedness at Providence College. As you know PC is doing wonderful things and we provide an invaluable service to the City of Providence and its residents. Every year we graduate brilliant young people who go out into the world to seek justice and good living. To achieve all of this we have had to increase our capacity through the development of the Ruane Center, the Smith Center, the Slavin Center, the Schneider Arena, the Ray Treacy Track. Indeed, these developments have allowed us to draw tomorrow’s leaders, writers and teachers through our doors, but building has a cost beyond the dollar amount: the carbon cost. While have some impressive bioswales for processing the storm-water from our parking lots, a solar panel on Slavin that powers some of its lights and a plethora of Hydration Stations around campus thanks to the efforts of Think Outside the Bottle and Student Congress, we don’t seem to have a comprehensive strategy for dealing with climate change. But our competition does: Holy Cross plans to be carbon neutral by 2040. 

If you were to do a web search for “Providence College and Sustainability” you get a link to a three paragraph page that talks about how we recycle on campus. Recycling is last in the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” mantra because it is a least effective last resort option that comes with its own carbon cost. And while we will probably start composting next year this will only be in compliance with Rhode Island State Law. The Sustainable Endowments Institutes gathers information from academic institutions and compiles it into Green Report Cards. Providence college submitted our information to them in 2010 and the grade we received was a C- (Boston College and Holy Cross both boast B’s).

We need the creation of a Council for Climate Change Preparedness to advise our Board of Trustees in the making of every development decision and the creation of every strategic plan. It all goes back to that first responsibility God ever gave us in the book of Genesis, and who would we be as a Catholic institution if we didn’t give this reality some very specific attention? The folks at the top may not pay attention to this unless they believe it’s marketable, and they won’t believe it’s marketable unless the student body demonstrates interest. If you believe the Providence College should be a leader in Christian environmentalism come out on Saturday and show your interest by signing the petition. Join your friends at the Providence Exchange Vintage Bazaar, where we’ll exchange threads, empower consumers and (maybe) save the planet.  It starts with 52% and a C-, and I think that’s a Bazaar opportunity.

The Providence Exchange Vintage Bazaar will take place on Saturday, November 22nd from 12-5pm in the Balfour Unity Center of Lower Slavin. Please feel free to visit our website and follow us on twitter. If you would like to donate clothing contact the Organizer: msmith44@friars.providence.edu. 

Sources:

Sarah Knapton – The Telegraph 

Jason Bittle – Slate

The United Nations News Center

The College Sustainability Report Card

Tell Me Your Secrets, I’ll Tell You Who We Are

AbbyDefault

Abby Hevert ’15

Nothing makes us so lonely as our secrets.  -Paul Tournier, Christian Physician & Psychotherapist

Sometimes, when I am walking around campus in between classes, I take a break from checking my phone and look up to see my Providence College peers. They are, on the surface, practically perfect. Scenes of thin, pretty girls clad in Hunter Boots and J Crew sweaters fill my eyes. Handsome boys in similar preppy or athletic fashion also pass by. Both genders talk about the quizzes coming up in their classes, the people they have been texting, the events coming up this weekend, and their respective club meetings this week. They have everything going for them. Most have been on sports teams in high school or took part in student council. Providence College students are, no doubt, successful people. However, I am also curious about what happens to us when we close the door to our dorm rooms. When we get the bad news. When we get rejected. When we embarrass ourselves. When we have to go see the doctor. When we get scared. When we have trouble paying our bills. When we can’t sleep. When we call home. When home calls us.

I have written, at this point, a few different articles on being imperfect and experimenting with failure. Many people have reached out to me, throughout the PC community, who have expressed the relief in realizing that there is at least one person in this world who shares one of their same fears. There is so much peace in realizing that we are not alone. Yes, we may still get hurt. But, at least we know that we get hurt together. We are not some exceptions to “the rule”; every human goes through hardship. The difficult part about hard times is that we sometimes convince ourselves that no one else is going through them as well. As a result, we bury our secrets inside of us. We decide to not tell anyone about the things that make us squirm, make us doubt ourselves, and make us lose sleep. And, so, what happens? The squirming continues, the doubt morphs into paralyzing shame, and the insomnia makes us sick. We begin to seclude ourselves and continue to cultivate this shame. After all, everyone has two stories. One people want you to know, and one they do not.

I am in the quest of finding out what is not so pretty about us, what makes us nervous, what makes us sad, what makes us disappointed, what makes us…us. After all, if we knew more about each other, our compassion for each other would increase exponentially. We would know just a little bit more about the lives our peers really live, and not just the ones they pretend to live. We could also feed our own souls by knowing at least one other heart in this world may beat with not-so-perfect vibrations as well. We could find other hearts that say to our hearts: “you are not alone.” Oh, these hearts exist. They exist in your dorm hallway. They exist in your economics class. They exist in the library. They exist at Providence College.

So, it is now that I ask my PC classmates: What is your second story? What is one thing that you would never want anyone to know? It is through the vehicle of this article that I ask you all to participate in a new movement called P-Secrets. Similar to the literary phenomenon “Post Secret” I am asking for anonymous submissions of secrets about yourself, and no one else. Comments will be censored for slanderous language about other people. This is not a time to confess anything to any one person in particular; it is a time to let a secret out into the world in order to promote the notion that “we are not alone.” These secrets will be submitted through an anonymous survey so that I will not even know the names of those who submit. It will be through this survey that I can compile a new article about the things we hide from each other for the sake of seeming perfect to one another. It will, hopefully, become one that we can all reference when we feel as though we are in this battle against ourselves by ourselves. After all, the battle at keeping our secrets has been long and hard. It is time to put down our armor and expose our hearts. The time, now, is for rest.

Now is the time for respite from the things that secretly plague us.

Follow the link to take part in P-Secrets:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/JFYG7SB

Fortune Telling in Chicago

shoot3I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget the eerie circumstances of October 9th. I was visiting my partner in Chicago and we were walking down his street towards toward a promising night out. Allen was eagerly telling me about the friends he was making and how one was working on a doctoral thesis surrounding mysticism and fortune tellers. Apparently, her work explains, there is a direct correlation between the economic recession and folks deciding to visit psychics instead of therapists. We continued to walk, joking curiously about this practice and its authenticity.

From the darkness behind us a voiced called out, “Do you think it’s real?” We turned to find a woman by the corner who must have slipped our vision, her slight build listing against the support of her bicycle. She looked worried and determined but somehow temporary, as if the whirlwind of her life had just deposited her on that street corner for the moment we were crossing it. Her question had stopped us dead in our tracks.

“Fortune telling. Psychics. Is it all real?” she repeated. Her tone was earnest and emotional as if our response could change her world. We shrugged nervously, smiled and said we weren’t sure. She began to tell us her narrative of misfortune and I was transfixed. Months ago she had seen a psychic who told her that she was going to miscarry. She did. She was angry. She hadn’t believed the psychic but was now in the throes of violent uncertainty. Because her first pregnancy had ended the same way she wondered if the psychic had reached out to her friends to gather background information, but they all had denied involvement. We were speechless at this unexpected interaction and for a third time, desperately waiting for us to answer, she pleaded, “I’m asking you, is it real?”

On that street corner in Chicago the lenses of the universe aligned our lives with this woman’s. But to what end? We had nothing to offer her but empty words of solace. So we exchanged well-wishes and parted ways, leaving us in silence for the next few blocks. I felt hollow. For all of my Public Service training and friendly nature, I couldn’t summon an ounce of legitimate assistance for this person. I knew her only by her troubles. But that’s the thing; so had the fortune teller.

Regardless of the legitimacy of the practice, fortune telling doesn’t provide a service to people that sees them as a whole person (like traditional therapy). It sees them only by their fortunes and misfortunes, buy their successes and failures. It doesn’t help people focus on their assets and build themselves up by their strengths. A psychic doesn’t form a relationship with their customer in the same way that a therapist forms a relationship with their patient.

But deeper questions that arise from this interaction are, “What is useful information for us?” and, “What are the questions we seek answers to?” I suppose I can’t know that fortune telling isn’t real, but it made me think about all of the times in my life that I’ve put my trust in people to tell me what the future will bring. At one time or another we have all trusted experts to advise our biggest decisions.

Brittany Maynard, a woman with a terminal, incurable form of cancer ended her life yesterday. She had become a controversial figure under the national spotlight as someone seeking care under Oregon’s the Death with Dignity Act. There is someone very close to me who is wondering how much time is left. While we’ve been told by doctors that there’s “no crystal ball” (their actual words) they have still given us estimates in the form of months. But those haven’t always been correct and I am blessed that they haven’t. Because they were wrong I’ve been given a little more time with him. It is curious to be a human in a world of pleasure and suffering trying to strike a balance between living and dying – to understand the sadness of leaving those we love in this world to find the joy of going home to a God who waits for us. If I had met Brittany I would have been as tongue-tied as I was when I met the woman in Chicago.

I’m not writing this to finally answer the question of that woman in Chicago, or to say if I thought Brittany was wrong to die the way she chose to. What I am saying is this: that night I got to walk away with someone I loved knowing that life is worth living for as long as I can live it well, and also that this extra time with my father has been a miracle. Our lives are filled with crippling uncertainty and crisis, but living them is possible when we know that love makes us eternal. Right now I invite you to reach out to someone you love, because doing so is the only way to find the answers to the right questions. God bless you.