US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Spreading peace with social media

By Megan Sweas | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

A neat thing is happening right now in New York, and it's not simply Obama, Ahmadinejad, and Ban Ki-Moon talking development at the United Nations. The UN Digital Media Lounge is bringing the summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to ordinary people online.

"If we can make development transparent and available to people...I'm convinced that people will want to do more," USAID Administrator Raj Shah said this morning at the UN Digital Media Lounge.

I would have loved to be at the Digital Media Lounge in person, but thanks to Mashable, I don't need to be there; I can watch it online, live or delayed. There are some fascinating conversations both about the development work we need to do and about the power of social media to spread knowledge of crucial issues (check out Facebook's peace initiative).

This is a tremendous opportunity for Americans to start talking about our role in pushing forward the MDGs. Unfortunately, many speakers seem to be saying from Shah to the celebs in "Live on the Lounge," most Americans don't know much about the MDGs. In her experience, Marianne Williamson says in "Faith, Women and the MDGs," most Americans don't know what's going on in the rest of the world, but the good news is, "When we get it right, we're a great force for good."

I'm curious whether this extends to the audience at U.S. Catholic. Certainly, the liturgy gets a lot more comments than an interview on the church's justice and peace mission. Are you familiar with the MDGs? (If not, go here to learn more about them.) How important are they to you?

Clearly I was drawn to "Faith, Women, and the MDGs" and Williamson has some interesting comments about faith. A Jewish woman, she approaches faith from a universal perspective when talking development and distains the eye-rolling of secular progressives when faith comes up. She also pushes people of faith beyond platitudes. "How can you talk about love your neighbor and turn away when children are starving?" she asks (around 24 minutes).

Her views on role of women in development work (around 11 minutes) are very close to what the church would say about the "feminine genius," and she says it's influenced by her spirituality. Though she initially rejected the idea that the woman's role is at home, she says:

"The years taught me the mistake in nature of my youthful beliefs.... I believe now that it is a woman's role to take care of the home. It is the role of the woman to take care of the children. I just get it now that this world is our home and every child on this planet is our children."

She calls it "a divine sense of motherhood that goes way beyond our own sense of biological or individual imperatives."

I might add that this is the work of all Catholic feminists--male or female--but it is a compelling image.

I encourage you to take a look at these and other videos, be inspired, and if you blog, spread the news about the MDGs in general or specific issues--women, HIV/AIDS, the environment, malaria, extreme poverty, education, etc. Feel free to share your blog posts on development below.