Friday, September 3, 2010

Immigration News Roundup - 9/3/2010

1. Leaving Water for Border Crossers Found Legal: Something to cheer about... A federal appeals court on Thursday overturned the littering conviction of an Arizona activist who left gallon-size bottles of water for illegal immigrants crossing into the United States through a desert wildlife preserve. Daniel Millis of had been convicted of violating a statute prohibiting the dumping of garbage in an area designated as a refuge for endangered species. In a 2-1 ruling, judges of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said water didn't meet the definition of waste. They also took note of Millis' practice of removing empty water bottles he found while on his missions to avert dehydration deaths in the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. In response to today’s ruling Millis stated: “I continue to be saddened by the ongoing tragedy along the border; but I am pleased and relieved that the Court has finally made clear that humanitarian aid is never a crime.”

Meanwhile, migrants tell the Associated Press that the dangerous journey to el norte is still worthwhile.

2. Number of Undocumented in U.S. Drops: A deep recession and tougher border enforcement have led to a sharp decline in the number of immigrants entering the United States illegally in the past five years, contributing to the first significant reversal in the growth of their numbers in two decades, according to a new report by the Pew Hispanic Center. The number of illegal immigrants entering the United States plunged by almost two-thirds between 2005 and 2009, a dramatic shift after years of growth in the population, according to the report.

3. Immigrants are Assimilating More: A new study by the Center for American Progress shows that immigrants to the U.S. are assimilating at high rates, most notably by becoming citizens and homeowners in the first 18 years of residency. Among the findings:
  • Only 9.3 percent of Latinos who were recently arrived owned homes in 1990, but the number surged to 58 percent by 2008.
  • High school completion and earnings also are rising. The share of foreign-born men earning above low income, for example, rose since 1990 from 35 percent, when they were recently arrived, to 66 percent in 2008, when they were longer settled.
  • Immigrant children — especially among Latinos — have higher rates of attainment in education and occupation than adult immigrants, who have less access to education as newly-arrived workers.

4. Fighting Back Against Copycat Immigration Laws Like Arizona’s: The Center for American Progress has also published a collection of resources and talking points for fighting back against anti-immigrant legislation at the state and local level. This resource comes at a critical moment given that candidates for governor in 20 states have endorsed anti-immigrant laws. States include Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Massachusetts, Colorado, Wisconsin and Nebraska among others. Word to the hermanos and hermanas: REGISTER ...and VOTE in November...por favor.

5. And speaking of Arizona...: Three important news stories emerging...

a) Brewer Linked To Private Prisons Housing Illegal Immigrants: Arizona TV station KPHO reports today that
Gov. Jan Brewer’s campaign chairman and policy adviser is also a lobbyist for the largest private prison company in the country. Chuck Coughlin is one of two people in the Brewer administration with ties to Corrections Corporation of America. The other administration member is communications director Paul Senseman, a former CCA lobbyist. His wife still lobbies for the company...

b) U.S. files new suit on Ariz. immigration issue: The Justice Department filed another lawsuit against immigration practices by Arizona authorities, saying Monday that a network of community colleges acted illegally in requiring noncitizens to provide their green cards before they could be hired for jobs... In Monday's lawsuit, Justice officials said the colleges discriminated against nearly 250 noncitizen job applicants by mandating that they fill out more documents than required by law to prove their eligibility to work. That violated the federal Immigration and Nationality Act, the department said.

c) Feds file suit against Maricopa County's infamous sheriff Joe Arpaio: Attorneys for the U.S Justice Department sued Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Thursday, saying he refused to provide them with documents they want for their civil-rights inquiry. The lawsuit, filed in federal court, says the Justice Department began a preliminary inquiry into the Sheriff's Office in 2008 over allegations that employees "engaged in a pattern or practice of discriminatory law-enforcement conduct," both on the streets and in the jails.

6. Latinos Blame Both Parties On Immigration Reform: More than a third of Latino voters blame both parties in Congress for not trying hard enough to pass immigration reform, and Latino enthusiasm for voting in this year's mid-term elections is down, a new poll shows. Those findings of an election-year tracking poll by Latino Decisions -- released this week and to be updated weekly -- underscore Latino voter dismay over the lack of progress on immigration, an issue that ranks second in importance to them, behind the economy, says one analyst. "They are frustrated with both parties, and it would appear from the goings-on in D.C. that they are right - both parties are ignoring or avoiding the issue," said Matt Barreto, director of the poll and a political science professor at the University of Washington, Seattle. The telephone poll of Latino registered voters in 21 states -- which comprised 94% of the Latino electorate in '08 -- was conducted from Aug. 13 to Aug. 26, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5%.

7. Maryland Episcopal Bishops Issue Pastoral Letter on Immigration: The bishops of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland have issued a pastoral letter addressing the need for comprehensive immigration reform. The Sept. 2 letter, titled Welcoming the Stranger, is intended to be posted or read in Episcopal congregations in Maryland "to remind all of us of the biblical values and imperatives that should guide our treatment of newcomers and sojourners," the bishops say. In a summary of the formal document, the bishops said, "In a world on the move, we need to learn to welcome the stranger, to embrace the 'other.' The moral principles of the Episcopal faith lead us to value every individual, to value family ties and seek to preserve families, and to cry out for justice for all people."

8. 72 Migrants Massacred in Northern Mexico: Last year we reported on the attacks by the Zetas against defenseless migrants. Last week, Mexican authorities discovered the bodies of 72 migrants from Central and South America who were kidnapped on their way to the United States and brutally shot and left to die in a remote, abandoned ranch near a small town in northeastern Mexico. Eighteen-year-old Luis Freddy Lala Pomavilla, one of two survivors of the massacre who managed to escape and lead authorities to the crime scene, claims that he and his fellow U.S.-bound migrants were kidnapped by the Zetas drug cartel and told they would either have to pay a ransom or work as drug couriers and hit men. When most refused, they were reportedly "blindfolded, ordered to lie down and shot." The police officer who was investigating the deaths has also been killed.

Mexico's Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera issued a statement condemning the massacre and calling for immigration reform in Mexico: "It is further evidence of the social disorder and loss of respect for fundamental values present in some parts of the shows the absence of a comprehensive immigration policy in Mexico that is coherent with the requirements of human mobility in view of a humane treatment of immigrants, as Mexico has required of the United States."

Narco-Violence and the Failure of the Church in Mexico

"Mexico's churches might have been a bulwark against the tide of drug violence, but the institutional rejection of liberation theology in past decades has rendered them powerless" -- this is how this article begins. A strong indictment by a religious studies professor who has made a career out of studying the relationship between popular religiosity and liberation theology...

By Jennifer Scheper Hughes
Religion Dispatches

The mood in Cuernavaca was subdued last week after four decapitated bodies were discovered, hung from their feet from an overpass in yet another set of drug-related assassinations. Turf-battles between rival drug cartels have plagued the once-tranquil “city of eternal spring” since December of 2009, when the Marines took out the drug kingpin, Arturo Beltran Leyva, and then offered for public display his stripped, bullet-riddled body, adorned with dollars, rosaries, and small religious medals they had taken from his pockets.

For more than twenty years, in the 1970s and 1980s, this same city was one of the most important centers for Roman Catholic Liberation Theology in Latin America. Now, today, after two decades of a conservative turn orchestrated by Rome, the Diocese of Cuernavaca, and the Mexican Church more generally, has been rendered impotent to address the complex social and economic problems that underlie the traffic in drugs. Meanwhile, violence has only escalated under Mexican President Calderon’s drug war, with the total dead now approaching 30,000 in a little over three years. Among other recent victims are 72 migrants found on August 24th on a farm in a remote town just 100 miles south the U.S. border.

Dismantling the liberationist legacy

Liberation Theology, the radical social and theological experiment launched after the Second Vatican Council, offered both a social critique and a utopian vision for the future of Latin America. This project was, for a time, powerful and pervasive enough that it could have mitigated some of the underlying social problems that today create fertile ground for drug-based economies and narco-violence throughout Latin America. The liberationist vision was taken up nowhere else more seriously as by the Diocese of Cuernavaca, under the leadership of the beloved “red bishop”, don Segio Méndez Arceo. Don Sergio saw that his priests were trained as community organizers, not in seminaries but rather in the “colonias populares,” in the impoverished outskirts of Cuernavaca, where they were immersed in the lives and the struggles of the poor of the Diocese.

Under the leadership of these liberationist priests, communities throughout the region mobilized around a Christian-informed political activism in a struggle for economic justice. In 1981, Don Sergio famously excommunicated torturers and human rights violators. He was forced into retirement shortly thereafter, after thirty years as bishop, and quickly replaced by a succession of politically and theological conservative bishops who went about the work of dismantling and undermining don Sergio’s liberationist legacy. Today, little remains of his social vision and practice, and the aging priests who once embraced it cast to the margins of the diocese.

This is a pattern that was enacted elsewhere in Mexico and throughout Latin America in the last decades of the twentieth century, as the Vatican worked the institutional dismantling of liberation theology.

The Mexican Church has so distanced itself from the grassroots that it no longer has the authority and credibility it once had to launch an effective analysis and critique, or to propose credible alternatives to the recent drug war. In a recent interview, novelist Vincete Linero, author The Crime of Padre Amaro, asserted that if the Church had persisted in its liberationist social vision “we would not now be seeing this wave of crimes in which the drug lords have taken over Cuernavaca.”*

Spiritual money laundering

The Church also has been widely criticized by Mexican journalists for accepting “narcolimosnas”, or drug-tithes, from the big cartels. Last year, one Mexican bishop boldly defended his right to accept these “donations”, saying that they helped fund the construction of many churches — in effect arguing for a sort of spiritual money laundering. In an effort to respond to such public concerns, the current bishop of Cuernavaca gently suggested to his diocesan priests that they refrain from presiding at the plush religious celebrations of wealthy drug barons, including private confirmations, first communions, weddings and other “narcosacraments.”

Faced with escalating violence and having largely abandoned its’ social commitment, the Church, for the most part, has retreated from its persecuted flock. Many churches along the border now prefer to close their doors early, or open only briefly for Mass. Protestant churches have also withdrawn from these areas: U.S. evangelical churches have pulled out almost entirely from border mission trips.

This is not to say that there are not outspoken and committed clergy on the frontlines defending their congregations: indeed, priests who have dared to criticize the drug cartels have lost their lives. But these men remain on the margins of the church. From these margins, some progressive-minded priests have opposed Calderon’s drug war, arguing that it has only increased violence. Instead, they believe the government should enter into peace negotiations with the big drug cartels, in search of something analogous to the Salvadoran Peace Accords reached in 1992.

A place of death and dying

The global public, confronted with the spectacle of this violence, has responded with a morbid and anxious curiosity, on the one hand, and a mute indifference on the other. Perhaps this should come as no surprise. Mexico has long been a place of violence, death and dying in the western imagination. From Hernan Cortez’s horror at the bodies of sacrificial victims (a horror that blinded the conquistadors to their own acts of violence), to the famed sixteenth-century friar Bartolomé de las Casas’ account of Spanish atrocities worked upon innocent indigenous bodies in the process of conquest, to the accrued corpses of populations laid waste by European-born epidemic disease through three centuries of colonial rule— Mexicans in some sense have been understood as “born to die” violent, brutal and untimely deaths.

The ritual and public display of the mutilated bodies of victims of narcoviolence are thus like so many sacrificial victims cast down down the steps of the great Templo Mayor of the Aztec capital Tenochtitan (in fact, the Aztec City has today been re-dubbed “Narcotitlan”, as one Mexico City graffito declares). In both instances, the images of violence evoke horror, not compassion, in the western viewer. Violence in Mexico is thus naturalized and routinized— the grim backdrop for nightmarish dystopias represented in Hollywood films.

With the Church, the state, and the global public impotent or simply unwilling to protect them, many of Mexico’s faithful have turned to so called “narcosaints”. From San La Muerte to Jesús Malverde to San Judas Tadeo, these marginal saints offer their protection to all of those made vulnerable by the current “narcoculture”: drug addict, drug trafficker, and police officer alike.

* (Jorge Sifuentes Cañas, “Marcial Maciel era un sujto de psicoanálisis: Vincente Leñero”, El Milenio, Miércoles 4 de Agosto de 2010)

Jennifer Scheper Hughes is assistant professor of Religious Studies at the University of California, Riverside. She is the author of Biography of a Mexican Crucifix: Lived Religion and Local Faith from the Conquest to the Present (Oxford 2010) and writes from Tepoztlan, Morelos, some 20 miles from Cuernavaca.

The old is dying and the new struggles to be born

Leonardo Boff's weekly columns are available in Spanish from Servicios Koinonia. Some of his older columns are available in English at

by Leonardo Boff (English translation by Rebel Girl)

Among the many current problems, the most challenging are these three: the serious global social crisis, climate change, and the unsustainability of the Earth system. The global social crisis stems directly from the mode of production that still prevails around the world, the capitalist one. Its dynamic leads to an excessive accumulation of wealth in a few hands at the expense of a hideous plunder of nature and the impoverishment of the vast majority of people. It is growing and the sharp cries of the hungry and those considered "spent fuel" can not be silenced. This system should be denounced as inhuman, cruel, merciless and hostile to life. It has suicidal tendencies and, if not historically overcome, may lead the life-system to a dead end and even to the extermination of the human species.

The second major problem is climate change, which is being revealed by extreme events: great cold spells on the one hand and prolonged summers on the other. These changes synthesize an irreversible fact: the Earth has lost its balance and is looking for a point of stability, which will be reached when the temperature rises. Up to a two degrees Celsius increase, the Earth system is still manageable. If we don't do enough and the climate increases by 4 degrees Celsius (as some serious research centers have warned), life as we know it will not be possible. There will be a sinister landscape: a devastated Earth, covered with corpses.

Never has humanity as a whole faced such a choice: either radically change or accept our destruction and the devastation of the diversity of life. The Earth will continue, with bacteria, but without us.

It is important to understand that the problem is not the Earth, but our aggressive relationship, uncooperative with its rhythms and dynamics. Perhaps seeking a new equilibrium point, it will be forced to reduce the biosphere, involving the elimination of many living beings, not excluding humans.

The third problem is the unsustainability of the Earth system. Today we know empirically that the Earth is a living superorganism that harmonizes with subtlety and intelligence all the elements necessary for life to produce or reproduce lives continually and guarantee everything they need to survive.

But it happens that the excessive exploitation of its natural resources -- many renewable and others, not -- has prevented it from reproducing and self-regulating through its own internal mechanisms. Humanity currently consumes 30% more than the Earth can replenish. Thus, it is no longer sustainable. There are increasing losses of soil, air, water, forests, living species and human fertility. When will these losses stop? And if they don't stop, what will our future be?

This forces us into a paradigm shift in civilization. A change of civilization basically means a new beginning, a new form of synergy and mutual belonging between the Earth and humanity, living out values linked to spiritual capital such as caring, respect, cooperation, solidarity, compassion, peaceful coexistence and openness to the transcendent dimensions related to our ultimate sense of ourselves and the whole universe.

Without spirituality, that is, without a radical experience of Being, without immersion in the original source of all beings that gives rise to a new horizon of hope, we will certainly not achieve a happy journey.

We face a problem: the old still hangs on and the new struggles to be born, to use Antonio Gramsci's happy expression.

We live in urgent times. Emergencies make us think and dangers force us to create saving Noah's arks. We are not satisfied with the current state of the Earth. But still we believe it is within our reach to build a world of "living well", in harmony with all beings and energies of nature, mainly in cooperation with all human beings and in deep reverence for Mother Earth.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Joxe Arregi: A Silenced Theologian Leaves the Franciscans

Joxe Arregi Olaizola, the Basque Franciscan theologian and writer, has protested his silencing by Bishop José Ignacio Munilla Aguirre of the Diocese of San Sebastian, Spain, by breaking his silence and leaving his order. Arregi was born in Azpeitia (Gipuzkoa) on November 8, 1952. He was a Franciscan and lived at the Arantzazu Sanctuary. He received a PhD in Theology from the Catholic Institute of Paris, writing his thesis on the relationship between Christianity and other faiths. He has taught theology at Pamplona, Vitoria and Deusto. For many years he has been working in the theological formation of lay people. He was editor of Hemen, a journal of religious thought in Euskara. A more detailed biography and a list of his other publications in Spanish and in Euskara can be found here.

by Joxe Arregi,
Periodista Digital

Rumors have been swirling for some time like swallows flying so fast and free, with no other guide than the unerring instinct of life (by the way, how the swallows have multiplied in Arantzazu, and they are still growing! God bless you). But once the rumors are unleashed, sometimes innocently, sometimes intentionally, it is more difficult to stop them than to stop the flight of birds.

Well, the news has broken out in all directions and, contrary to my original intention, I can do no less than confirm it now: I'm going to leave the Franciscan Order. By the way, I apologize for any ambiguous statement of mine that some might have understood as a denial. It was not meant to be such.

I will leave the Franciscan Order. I have thought about it, looking inward between my light and shadow, looking outward at the mountain and sky, and the swallows. I have shared it with the people who love me and whom I trust most. I have spoken with the leaders of my Franciscan province who are also my friends. I will leave this Arantzazu of my soul, where I have lived for 17 of my 57 years; I will leave the Franciscan Province that has been my family and my home since I was 10 years old; I will leave the Franciscan Order that has completely shaped my being. I will not say that the decision did not cause pain and dizziness, but I take the step in peace.

It was predictable from that December 23rd when they imposed upon me, and I promised, silence for one year. And it was irreversible from that June 17th when I broke my vow of silence because, previously, my bishop had repealed the conditions that warranted it. I spoke up, not because I had some urgent prophetic message to preach, but simply because the time when freedom of speech could be enjoined in the Church of Jesus under the pretext of dogmas and magisterium, has passed.

Jesus did not establish dogmas and magisterium. On the contrary, He taught that the word of God should not be identified with human tradition (Mark 7:7 to 13), and He denounced scribes who had taken over the chair and the magisterium (Matthew 23:2), He categorically prohibited anyone calling themselves "teacher" or "father" (Matthew 23:8-9), He solemnly declared that "every human being is lord of the Sabbath" (Mark 2:28), i.e. lord of every religious law however sacred it might be, and He said to the deaf man in Aramaic: Ephphatha, "be opened", "listen and speak" (Mark 7:34).

Moreover, and the church should acknowledge it without further delay: even if Jesus had established dogmas and teachings — which He certainly did not establish — they would not have been immutable, because Jesus had no law or criteria other than the Spirit of God, and the Spirit is like air and water, and it is always moving. And if need be, as St. Paul said, "where the Spirit of Jesus is, there is freedom" (2 Cor 3:17).

Of course, the Church, like all human groups, requires structures and a more or less common language, but the structures have to be flexible and mobile, like everything living, and dogmas should be able to be understood and expressed in words always new, like any mystery; and in the first place, an authoritarian Church should change into a democratic Church, as Jesus wished.

And the Church, which has taken so many liberties to contradict Jesus, with more reason should be free to go along with the Spirit of Jesus. It's enough to know history to see how things have changed, and enough to taste the Spirit of God to know how they have to change. Whoever does not know history, at least let him taste the Spirit; whoever does not taste the Spirit, at least let Him know history. How anachronistic and contrary to the gospel is this idolatry of doctrine that has gagged us!

Simply because of this, I said: "I will not shut up." That amounted to insubordination, and there is no place for rebels in the institutional church that we have, and I knew it. There is also no place for objectors in the Franciscan Order that we have, and I also knew that: the Franciscans in charge, even against their will, and as the only way to avoid a serious internal conflict, would be obliged to require me to submit to the orders of the bishop. Therefore, I have not needed any great insights: either I complied or I left. I thought that I should not obey, to be faithful to the sure Jesus, to my unsure conscience, to my humble mission, but I did not want to be a reason for conflict for the Franciscans, who are my friends and brothers. The choice was not easy, but it was forced and simple.

I will leave the Order, and thus lose much, but who knows if, in the end, losing is not a gain as well this time. I choose life with all its risks, including the word. I do not know what will become of me (who knows what will become of themselves?), but wherever I go, God will come with me, and if I get lost along the way, He will find me. I want to continue being a disciple of Jesus of Nazareth, the good and free man. Oh, how far I feel from Him! But He is near me, near you. Jesus is my neighbor and every neighbor is Jesus. With him, like him, I want to continue being Church without those clumsy dichotomies of clergy and laity, religious and secular, faithful and heretics, believers and unbelievers.

I wish my bishop and brother Jose Ignacio Munilla well, and I think the best thing is to listen to, respect, and support the voice of the vast majority of his diocesan community, of which I will continue to be an active participant. The community's voice is the voice of the Spirit, far more so than the voice of Madrid or Rome.

Oh, and I want to continue to be a Franciscan, a simple Franciscan without the habit. Peace and Good!

As he has done in many of his writings, Arregi closes with a little passage to pray about, a poem by Benjamín González Buelta, SJ.

Esta mañana
enderezo mi espalda,
abro mi rostro,
respiro la aurora,
escojo la vida.

Esta mañana
acojo mis golpes,
acallo mis límites,
disuelvo mis miedo,
escojo la vida.

Esta mañana
miro a los ojos,
abrazo una espalda,
doy una palabra,
escojo la vida.

Esta mañana
remanso la paz,
alimento el futuro,
comparto alegría,
escojo la vida.

This morning
I straighten my back,
I lift my face,
I breathe in the dawn,
I choose life.

This morning
I welcome my punches,
I silence my limitations,
my fear dissolves,
I choose life.

This morning
I look someone in the eye,
I pat them on the back,
I offer a word,
I choose life.

This morning
I bring peace,
I nurture the future,
I share joy,
I choose life

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Don Efrain Hoyos, RIP

Just a quick note that we are mourning the passing yesterday of our friend Fr. Hoyos' father, Efrain. Please keep Padre Hoyos and his family in your prayers as they grieve the loss of the Hoyos clan's patriarch. In the photo below, Mr. Efrain Hoyos is shown (in brown and white shirt) celebrating the New Year with Padre Hoyos (in red) and other family members. I chose this image from the various ones on Padrecito's Facebook page because it shows his father's ability to enjoy life and being with his extended family, even when he was very ill. We remember his time on this earth with thankfulness.

Que en paz descanse.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The time to pitch in

Leonardo Boff's weekly columns are available in Spanish from Servicios Koinonia. Some of his older columns are available in English at

by Leonardo Boff (English translation by Rebel Girl)

My articles on the ecological situation on Earth may have raised more than a little anxiety in readers. And it is good that it is so, since anxiety moves us out of inertia, makes us think, read, converse, discuss and seek new paths. In dark times such as ours, tranquility would be irresponsible. Each and every one must act quickly and together, because everything is urgent. We must mobilize to set a new direction for our life on this planet if we want to continue living on it.

The times of plenty and comfort are past. What is happening is not simply a crisis, but something irreversible. The Earth has changed without possibility of going back and we must change with it. The time has begun of awareness of the finitude of all things, as well as of what seemed to us most perennial: the continuing vitality of the Earth, the balance of the biosphere and the immortality of the human species. All these realities are undergoing a process of chaos. At first it appears destructive, dropping all that is accidental and merely added on, but then it shows itself to be creative, giving new form to what is eternal and essential for life.

Until now we were living in the era of the fist, clenched to dominate, subjugate and destroy. Now the era of open hand, extended to build up, begins -- pitching in, in cooperation and solidarity, "the communal living well" and the common good of Earth and humanity. Goodbye to inveterate individualism and welcome to cooperation of all with all.

As astrophysicists and cosmologists assure us, the universe is still in genesis, in the process of expansion and self-creation. There is a Background Energy that underlies all events, supports each being and directs all energy forward and upward toward increasingly complex and conscious forms. We are a creative emergence from it.

That Background Energy is always in action, but is particularly active at times of systemic crisis when the forces accumulate to cause ruptures and make leaps in quality possible. "Emergences" occur then: something new that has not yet existed, but that is contained in the potentialities of the universe.

I believe that we are facing one of these "emergences": the noosphere (minds and hearts together), the planetary phase of consciousness and the unification of the human species, gathered together in the same common home, planet Earth.

Then we will identify ourselves as brothers and sisters sitting together at the table, to live, eat, drink and enjoy the fruits of Mother Earth, after working cooperatively and respecting nature. We will confirm what Ernst Bloch, the philosopher of the Hope Principle, said: "Genesis is not at the beginning but at the end."

I echo the words of the father of American ecology, cultural anthropologist and theologian Thomas Berry: "We will never lack the energy needed to build the future. In fact, we live immersed in an ocean of Energy, greater than we can imagine. This energy belongs to us, not through domination but through invocation."

We have to rely on that Background Energy. It is always there, available. We just have to open ourselves up to it with the willingness to welcome it and make the changes it inspires.

By being a beneficent and creative Energy, it enables us to proclaim with the poet Thiago de Mello, amid the dead ends and the threats to our future: "It is dark, but I sing." Yes, we sing the advent of this new "emergency" for Earth and humanity.

Because we love the stars, we are not afraid of the dark night. In the stars is our beginning, because we are made of stardust. They will guide us and make us shine again, because that is why we appear on this planet: to shine. That is the purpose of the universe and the design of the Creator.