We meet the 1st and 3rd Thursdays at St. Gertrude's Ministry Center
(6214 N. Glenwood), beginning at 8:00 p.m. Folks are welcome to join us at anytime.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Kairos Chicago Participates in Camp Hope

As millions of Americans waited with hope and anticipation for President Barack Obama's historical inauguration as the 44th President of the United States of America, hundreds of Obama supporters and peace and justice advocates from around the country braved sub-zero temperatures and snowy January days hoping President Obama will follow through with his promises of hope and change. Camp Hope: Countdown to Change was a 19-day presence near Barack Obama's home in Hyde Park, Chicago. All day and every day from New Year's Day to Dr. Martin Luther King Day, we set up Camp Hope to congratulate President Obama and recommit ourselves to the progressive actions he promoted on his campaign trail. In the evenings forum, films, workshops, theater, and speakers helped us to stregthen the local movement for peace and build the relationships to let social justice flow like a river. People like Kathy Kelly from Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Dr. Quentin Young from Physicians for a National Health Program, Ali Abunimah from Electronic Intifada, and groups like Chicago Metropolitan Sactuary Alliance and Witness Against Torture attracted over a thousand people to participate in Camp Hope in someway - from attending a workshop to spending all 19 days out at the vigil. While recognizing the need for profound policy change, Camp Hope asked, President Obama to take eight actions upon being sworn into office The eight asks, representing over 40 social justice organizations, of Camp Hope were:

  • Regarding Iraq, withdraw troops by 6,000 a month and cease combat operations; commit to the primacy of diplomacy, announce a new diplomatic initiative to end violent actions against Afghanistan and Pakistan
  • Take all nuclear weapons off hair trigger alert and work to eliminate nuclear weapons all together
  • Close Guantánamo, eliminate military tribunals an allow detainees access to the U.S. court system
  • Suspend deportation of immigrants, stop breaking up families and end raids at workplaces
  • Submt the Kyoto Protocol for ratification...
  • Establish a commission to develop policies for full employment
  • Issue a 90-day moratorium on housing foreclosures
  • Start a commission to develop policies on Universal Health Care

These are merely starting points for the new administration to begin working toward the fundamental change needed in this country. Our eight asks are not exhaustive and were never intended to be. We fail to address the occupation of Gaza, alternative energy, unfair trade policies such as NAFTA and CAFTA and much else. We realize all of these are interconnected and that, as Dr. King said, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Camp Hope was just one action among many, but it was one with an air of positivity and hope that change has indeed come to America.

Barack Obama may have been inaugurated today by Chief Justice John Roberts, but yesterday almost 200 Chicagoans celebrated the birthday of Dr. King and Obama's presidency with "A People's Inauguration: Reclaiming Our Democracy" in Federal Plaza. Artists, activists, students, musicians, poets and many others gathered to close Camp Hope, challenge ourselves to live the radical vision of Dr. King, and usher in an era where communities acting on progressive values to better the lives of the marginalized and the poor will be welcomed in Washington.

And now that President Obama's time has come and his administration looks forward to define the Obama presidency in the first 100 days of his tenure, the time for waiting for change is over. Now is the time for action. Those of us from Camp Hope will leave our handwarmers and campfires from 51st and Drexel Avenue and continue our working for peace and justice in places like the Middle East, Columbia, the Borderlands and organize at home in Chicago and in Washington for more jobs, less poverty, no more torture. Yes, we can; Yes, we did; Yes, we must! So, Mr. President, now it's your turn to do right. We haven't quit yet and are inviting you to be part of the widespread change that is happening at grassroots levels. And just in case you forget what you've promised, we are not afraid to come to D.C. to make sure the voice of the people is not lost among the lobbyists and lawmakers. Camp Hope congratulates you President Obama and, like much of America, is ready for some action - don't leave us out in the cold.

Members from Kairos Chicago at Camp Hope site in Hyde Park on January 3rd!

Jake Olzen is a graduate student at Loyola University Chicago and a co-coordinator of Camp Hope: Countdown to Change on behalf of Kairos Chicago

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