Suggested FCJM-Participation for the Month of April, 2018
April 4—International Day of Landmine Awareness & Assistance in Mine Action
This day aims to raise awareness about landmines and to make progress toward their eradication. In many countries, landmines pose a continuing risk to life and limb, long after wars and conflicts have ceased. For children playing, farmers planting or harvesting their fields and people traveling along the side of the road, buried explosive devices can change life forever. In such areas of the world, educational awareness is critical to keeping civilians as safe as possible. This day also includes advocating for universal participation in international treaties related to landmines, for removing explosive remnants of war and aiding their victims, and destroying landmines stockpiled by governments and non-state armed groups. The international community has banded together to try to detect and eliminate landmines and other explosives through the mine-action initiative. According to the Landmine Monitor Report 2005, 84 countries were affected by landmines and unexploded ordnance, which together kill or maim between 15,000 and 20,000 adults and children annually. The UN works together with countries to find and destroy these devices. It also helps to provide various mine-action services in many countries. This effort was of special interest to Princess Diana of Great Britain, and now her sons have continued to raise funds and advocate for an end to the use of landmines and to removal of existing ones.
God of peace, transform our hearts as we seek to build a world of peace, where each human life is treasured and protected from violence. Help us to courageously demand an end to the production, use and possession of landmines, that kill and maim so many people. Let us build a world where all weapons of war are seen as inhumane and help us to turn to peaceful means of resolving conflicts.
April 7—World Health Day
2018 marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO). Through this year’s theme “Health For All”, the WHO is calling on governments throughout the world to honor the pledges they made when they supported the Sustainable Development Goals of 2015. One goal aims at providing access to affordable basic healthcare for all people by the year 2030. At this time, about half of the world’s population lacks access to basic healthcare. Health costs have pushed about 100 million people into poverty. The call is for governments everywhere to move toward universal healthcare coverage for all. Access to essential quality care and financial protection not only enhances people’s health and life expectancy, it also protects countries from epidemics, reduces poverty and the risk of hunger, creates jobs, drives economic growth and enhances gender equality. Every person has a human right to access services that help to maintain good health and treat basic, treatable illnesses.
Holy One, we pray for people throughout the world who do not have access to affordable basic healthcare. Help us to continue to advocate for universal healthcare access where it does not exist and to strive to eradicate hunger, poverty and war which make good health delivery impossible.
April 11—Holocaust Remembrance Day (begins at sunset)
The date marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau by Soviet troops on 27 January 1945. Holocaust Remembrance Day is a time to remember the victims of Nazi extremism and genocide, and to dedicate ourselves to building a world free from antisemitism, racism, discrimination and intolerance of diversity. This year’s theme “Holocaust Remembrance and Education: Our Shared Responsibility” underlines the continued duty to learn about and remember the Holocaust. Unfortunately, such atrocities continue to happen. Remembering is the first step in the continuing effort to ensure that such violence and genocide will not be repeated. It is also essential that we study the causes and long-term consequences of such violence, both to individuals, families, towns and cities, and nations. We, the people of the world, must never allow this to happen. We must never be silent in the face of hate speech or hate policies.
God of peace and justice, open our hearts in love and care for one another. Give us the courage to stand up for one another in the face of discrimination, antisemitism or intolerance. Help us to find our voice, so that we are never complicit through our silence.
April 12—International Day For Street Children
This day provides a platform so that street children can speak out and demand that they be listened to. It is a day to remind governments that they have a special responsibility to protect and provide for children who are deprived of a family environment. These children have a right to an adequate standard of living—to food, shelter and safety, so that they can survive. Children are the future for any country, and each person has a precious and unique contribution to make to their society. Education is also needed for any child to reach his or her full potential. The best way to meet the needs of street children is to listen to them, so as to better understand where they come from, how they have had to survive and what services could help them claim their future with dignity.
Let us pray for street children throughout the world. God, protect these children who so often have had to fend for themselves. Protect them from those who would take advantage of their vulnerability. Open our hearts and our hands to help in whatever way we can. Let us not be afraid to reach out in love and kindness. Help us to see and respond to those in need.
April 22—Earth Day and April 23—International Day of Mercy
The 2018 Earth Day theme is: "End Plastic Pollution-Be the Change." Plastic pollution is artificially damming up streams and rivers and contributing to flooding during heavy rains in many parts of the world. Plastics are also killing marine life in our oceans and rivers and washing up on beaches thousands of miles from their point of origin. Plastic is overwhelming our landfills and because they are not biodegradable, are threatening the survival of our planet. This Earth Day, let us each take concrete steps to stop plastic pollution. The first step is using less plastic—refusing to buy plastic water bottles and using re-usable containers for carrying water; recycling plastic bottles, containers and bags; using cloth bags for shopping. Another step is actively participating in clean-up efforts at local rivers, streams and even street sides. We must lead by example and teach future generations to reject plastic and demand biodegradable containers rather than plastic.
God, we ask forgiveness for our throw away culture and our personal throw away habits. We commit ourselves to continue to find ways to reduce our use of plastics. What we do use, we commit ourselves to recycling rather than discarding plastic into our environment. We also commit ourselves to caring of Mother Earth in ways great and small, so that we and future generations can live healthy lives in harmony with creation.
Suggested FCJM-Participation for the Month of March, 2018
March 8—International Women’s Day
International Women’s Day (IWD) was first recognized by the United Nations in 1975. However, IWD was first celebrated in New York in 1909. IWD celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the world and challenges us to continue to work for gender equality in every place on the planet. The United Nations (UN) Sustainability Goals specifically recognize that global sustainable development requires that gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls be at the heart of the 2030 agenda. This year’s theme is “Press for Progress” and women are mobilizing worldwide to call attention to wage disparity, calling for equal pay for equal work; to educational disparities, calling for equal educational opportunities throughout the world; to employment and career advancement discrimination, calling for all to be judged by their hard work and competence, no matter their gender or gender identity; to sexual harassment in the workplace and at home, calling for an end to these abusive practices which are all too often the “norm”. After over 100 years of struggle, the time is now to “press for progress”. The worldwide “Women’s Marches” of January 2017 and 2018 have demonstrated that millions of women around the world are ready to act for change.
Oh, Holy One, as we celebrate the strength, openness and dedication of women around the world, may we each continue to work toward full equality for women. May every woman and girl know their strengths and gifts and be willing to support one another in the struggle for equality. May we honor those women who have gone before us and who continue to inspire us to action. May our own commitment and action inspire and motivate future generations to reach for the stars, to become all that they desire to be and to create a world of peace and justice.
March 21—Week of Solidarity Against Racism and Racial Discrimination
March 21st begins the UN week of solidarity against racism and racial discrimination. This date was chosen to remember the 69-people killed by police on March 21, 1960, at a peaceful demonstration against the apartheid "pass laws" in Sharpeville, South Africa. In 1966 the United Nations called on the entire international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination. Further, the UN officially recognized that discrimination against many ethnic, indigenous and racial groups exists all over the world, and continues to hinder people from living up to their fullest potential. In 2001, the World Conference against Racism produced the most authoritative and comprehensive program for combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance: the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. Periodic reviews of global progress towards eliminating all forms of racial discrimination continue as a formal part of the UN evaluation of compliance with the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. The emphasis for the day is on inclusion, unity and respect for diversity. The UN is especially concerned about the renewed racial discrimination presently being associated with the ongoing global refugee and immigrant crisis. It is crucial that all nations redouble their efforts to promote inclusion, unity and respect for the dignity of every person.
This week we pray for open hearts as we reach out to build understanding among people. May we all come to know, deep within ourselves, that we are all brothers and sisters to one another. God, bless us with compassion for all, and help us to treasure and celebrate the diversity that enriches our one human family.
March 22—World Water Day
This Day was established in 1993 by the UN to raise awareness among all people of the need to protect and conserve the precious gift of water. This year’s theme is “Nature for Water”, and focuses on exploring nature-based solutions to the water challenges we face. Damage to ecosystems affect the quantity and quality of the water available for human use and consumption. The UN Sustainable Development Goal #6 commits the world to ensuring that everyone have access to safe water by 2030. Presently, it is estimated that over 2.1 billion people worldwide do not have this access. This negatively affects health, education and livelihoods. Restoring wetlands, reducing and eventually eliminating pollution, curbing climate change and restoring vegetation and animal life necessary to maintain healthy ecosystems is required if we are to protect and preserve clean, refreshing, health-sustaining water for ourselves and future generations.
God, we thank you for the gift of water, which sustains life on our planet, refreshes our bodies and spirits, carves our valleys and canyons, flows through our rivers and lakes, waters our fields and serenades us as it trickles over rocks and crashes over waterfalls. Help us to care for water, use her wisely, and protect her from contamination and harm. May we have the courage to make the necessary choices today that will help sustain clean and pure water for ourselves and our planet.
March 25—International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade
This UN day of remembrance has been held annually since 2008. Over 17 million Africans were transported to the Americas during 16th to the mid-19th centuries, with many millions more dying in route. This day is a special day for remembering—remembering all those who were sold into slavery; those who died during the treacherous Atlantic crossing; those who lived, sometimes for generations, as slaves; and those who suffer today because of the racism that still exists in many parts of the world as an inheritance of the slave trade. The legacy of slavery continues to have profound social and economic impact. The scars of deeply rooted racial discrimination, chronic poverty, systemic and institutionalized racism continue to affect people of African descent today. This day also reminds us of the capacity of the human being to inflict unimaginable physical, psychological and spiritual pain on other human beings. Human trafficking today is another form of the slave trade that continues to this very day. This is a day to honor the contributions of those from Africa who have contributed to global cultural advancement and who deserve our appreciation, honor, respect and support in this and future generations.
God, we ask forgiveness for the suffering caused to so many people by the transatlantic slave trade. We also ask for our hearts to be transformed so that discrimination and racism will vanish and we will learn to treat every person with compassion, love, respect and dignity. Give us the courage to raise our voices and to stand up to all forms of racism and oppression. Help us to reach across racial and ethnic barriers to become one family, all sharing the spark of the divine.