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2016 Eastern Washington Legislative Conference

Holy Names sister interconnects global goals for development and state issues


Sr. Linda Haydock, SNJM, describes progress made and challenges participants to invite others to join them in action.

Sister Linda Haydock, executive director of the Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center (IPJC) in Seattle, believes that if “we can dream it, we can do it.”

She told participants at the 2016 Eastern Washington Legislative Conference that, “when we bring religion and politics together, we need to keep perspectives in balance.”

Sr. Linda connected the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and progress on the Millennium Development Goals on the global level with local and state issues.

“Those connections give hope and set the stage for personal and congregational responsibilities,” she said.

Martin Luther King Jr. said that religion that professes concern for souls, but is not concerned about slums and social issues that cripple them is “a dry as dust religion,” she said. “We here are not a dry as dust religion.

“At a time of tall buildings and short tempers, wide freeways and narrow viewpoints, multiplied possessions and reduced values,” she calls people to “rise up to tell the story of what people are doing for the common good.”

After having participants sing, “We Shall Overcome,” she pointed out that few millennials know the song.

“We must remember this song and keep our goals for the common good to make our dreams and hopes reality,” she said. “Our legislative, racial, economic and ecological goals are our responsibility.”

Sister Linda said the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were “the most successful anti-poverty movement in history,” and provide basis to hope and celebrate.

Watch the youtube video of Linda Haydock's Keynote

She highlighted progress on the goals:

• The number of people suffering from hunger and living in extreme poverty was reduced by half.

• The number of children not in universal primary education was reduced from 100 million to 57 million.

• Seeking to promote gender equity and to empower women led to two-thirds the level of parity in primary school and 90 percent more women in government and parliaments.

• There were 6 million fewer deaths of children under five.

• Improvements in maternal health cut maternal mortality in half.

• Progress in combating HIV/AIDS reduced the incidence from 3.5 to 2.1 million and increased distribution of anti-retrovirals by 13 percent.

• Improved environmental sustainability was measured by increasing access to piped drinking water to 2 billion people.

• Increased global partnerships for development increased internet accessibility from six to 43 percent.

“This success came with our faith based groups, churches and NGOs prodding,” she said.

Aware that more is needed, this fall, representatives of 193 countries unanimously adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—with 10 to 12 targets under each—for 2015 to 2030, with a commitment to end poverty by 2030. 

Pope Francis considers the new goals a sign of hope and a call for governments and individuals to be responsible,” she said.

Sister Linda said these goals with five emphases are “a quantum leap” and call everyone to be responsible—churches, mosques, temples, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), not just governments.

• First, the goals were developed through consultation, small working groups, local conversations and internet input.

• Second, they are broader and more specific, and are for all countries, not just developing ones.

• Third, there are more goals for global sustainability related to water, sanitation, climate change, ecosystems, consumption and production. 

• Fourth, the SDGs address root causes and call for a sustainable economy, inequality reduction and innovative infrastructures.

• Fifth, they promote peaceful, inclusive societies for sustainable development and justice.

“If we achieve even half of these goals, it would be astounding. Look them up online,” Sister Linda said.

“What does this have to do with our state?  The MDGs and the SDGs are the macro level and the state is the micro level of responsibility for the common good,” she said. 

“We have to start where we are,” she said.  “Accomplishments of our faith communities and advocates in Olympia are remarkable.”

Sister Linda ran through a 10-issue litany of gratitude, giving thanks for the difference people of faith make:

• Washington ranks among the best in health care with mental health care, chemical dependency services, suicide prevention, Medicare and Medicaid services.

• Food and hunger needs are being met with the Emergency Food Assistance Program and Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition program in place because we advocated.

• A death penalty moratorium and regulations on assisted suicide support life.

• Housing is possible through the Housing Trust Fund and projects of Lutheran Community Services and Catholic Charities.

• The state has a document filing fee that supports people in low-income housing.

• Children and families can thrive with learning, child and parental support.

• There are efforts for economic justice, farm worker justice, labor safety and just wages.

• Immigrants benefit from the Real Hope Act.  The state did not adopt the Real ID Act, because citizens said no.

• Advocates continue to seek to reform the justice system through programs for juveniles in Anti-Violence Act therapeutic courts and re-entry programs.

• The state cares about the environment enough to pass oil transportation safety and advocate for a Toxic Free Kids Act.

• The state passes anti-trafficking laws because the faith community has advocated for them.

Then Sister Linda led a call and response on “Our Responsibility for the Common Good.” 

To each statement, participants replied, “It is our dream and our responsibility.”  The call was a question: Will you act:

• to prevent homelessness and provide housing?

• to give access to and integration of mental health, physical health and chemical dependency services?

• to provide a healthy environment?

• to ensure funding for hunger, housing and poverty reduction?

• to reduce violence through re-entry programs, gun safety and anti-human trafficking laws?

• to animate faith communities to advocate for Washingtonians in poverty and children who are poor?

“It is our duty and our responsibility to transform both our world and our state,” Sister Linda asserted.  “We must live the story of our dreams because we are not a dry as dust religion. 

She called participants to respond when faith-based advocates ask them “to sign up to transform our state from poverty to prosperity for all, from injustice to justice for all, from incarceration to inclusive communities, from hungry families to healthy communities.” 

When participants return to their congregations and communities, some may say, they can’t do it, it can’t be done, it’s too late, they are too old or too young.

“I want you to remember that Abraham was too old, Moses stuttered, Gideon was afraid, Jeremiah was too young, Jonah ran, Naomi was a widow, Job went bankrupt, Martha worried, Paul was way too religious, Timothy had an ulcer and Lazarus was dead,” she said.

“We need to live the story we believe in.  Transformation is possible,” she said. 

She also called people to practice compassion in every encounter with those on the margins and in meetings with elected officials.

She called for sharing stories of “vulnerable people in neighborhoods,” and building communities of support and solidarity as we advocate for justice,” she said. 

“This is our moment in history to tell the story, to live the story of justice for all,” Sister Linda said.

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