“Paterson,” A Wonder of a Film

“Paterson”

Written and Directed by Jim Jarmusch

Amazon Studios

Rated: R

1:58

In the 80’s, Director Jim Jarmusch’s ironical, whimsical, quirky, and funny films such as “Down By Law” and “Mystery Train” felt like revelations of something truly new and Indie filmmaking’s essence. Over time though, releases of a new Jarmusch film weren’t quite the events they once were.

Absence of anticipation will enhance your gratification discovering his new film “Paterson,” which reflects Jarmusch’s refreshing new sincerity, which moves beyond the irony that had characteristically marked his films.

Paterson (Adam Driver) lives in the small city of Paterson in northern New Jersey with his wife Laura (Golshifteh Farahani). His job is bus driver, but his vocation is writing poetry. The film’s minimalist structure is one of its charms.

It takes place from one Monday to the next. Each new day begins with the couple in bed; their sleep positions – back to back, face to face, she resting her head on her chest – their routine’s only modifications.

Watch in hand, Paterson awakens at 6:15 am and walks down the city’s narrow, serpentine streets, and assumes his seat in his NJ Transit bus.

Stealing moments before his shift, Paterson works on that day’s poem when his supervisor Donny (Rizwan Manji) greets him and complains hyperbolically about his life that’s falling apart.

At lunch, Paterson takes his lunchbox and sits on a bench and watches the city’s spectacular waterfall. And inspired by Laura’s photograph taped to his lunchbox, Paterson works on his poetry.

He returns home at night, and eats dinner with Laura. After dinner, he walks his English bulldog Marvin, and stops at the neighborhood bar. Paterson drinks one beer, which he doesn’t finish, and returns home.

There, in a sense, is your movie. But “Paterson” is much richer than that. Bus driver and poet, on the surface, may seem like an unlikely juxtaposition, but Paterson’s work enhances his poetry because he goes everywhere, sees everything, and allows himself to smile as he overhears his bus’s passengers.

Two adolescent boys discuss one of the city’s natives Rubin “Hurricane” Carter. Memorialized in song and film, he was falsely accused of murder and later exonerated.

One of the boys says, “Denzel looked like him,” conflating film illusion with actuality, revealing the gentle humor, which marks Jarmusch’s films. The film also celebrates other city notables: Lou Costello, Dave of soul music duo Sam and Dave, and anarchist Gaetano Bresci.

Much of the joy you experience watching “Paterson” derives from its celebration of poetry and poets. As you hear Paterson work out that day’s poem in his mind, the words appear on the screen, deepening our appreciation for how a poet brings a poem to life, as if we discover the process for the first time.

Paterson takes an ordinary object – a matchstick – and looks beyond its practical purpose to create an image – the matchstick that lights your lover’s cigarette – that evokes a surprisingly gratifying response.

Laura encourages Paterson to publish his poems, but he doesn’t seem motivated to do that. As Laura nurtures his poetry, Paterson lovingly indulges Laura’s ever changing creative outlets.

One day, she’s convinced her cupcakes are the next big things, and the next she orders an expensive guitar, sure she’s the next great country singer.

All the while her obsession with black and white polka  dots – the walls, drapes, and shirts she wears –  almost overwhelms them. The film celebrates how these well-suited foils nurture each other to be the people they’re called to be.

Also very good in the new film “Silence,” Driver well modulates the subdued Paterson’s movements and expressions, his hangdog face always portraying the right measure of emotion. And the Iranian actress Farahani is vivid, striking and winsome as Laura.

Except for one moment at the bar when Paterson intervenes to stop a lovesick acquaintance Everett (William Jackson Harper) from harming others, there’s little dramatic tension in “Paterson.” More than a drama or a comedy, an observation might be a better way to describe the film.

It observes two people, affirming each other, who re-discover the blank page’s power to write their lives’ poems each day. Amid the glut of more high-profile Oscar contenders, don’t overlook “Paterson,” one of 2016’s best films. You’ll kick yourself if you miss this wonder of a film.

 

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Creative Maladjustment Will Help End Poverty

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The site of a proposed shelter for homeless families. Why can’t we eliminate the need for these kinds of shelters?

In my Washington, DC neighborhood – the most affluent in the city – people are upset about a homeless shelter proposed to be built in the neighborhood.

Some of my neighbors’ NIMBY attitudes aren’t unexpected, but our neighborhood hasn’t been singled out. Part of a city wide plan, which attempts to re-structure the way the city houses persons who are homeless, the proposed shelter is one of five designated to support homeless families throughout the city.

Instead of housing 270 families in one central shelter, which, all agree, is dangerous and overcrowded, these new shelters would house 50 families in each shelter, offering them more privacy and dignity.

With fewer families to help, the new shelter system’s proponents believe case managers won’t lose track of families or neglect their needs, and receiving more individualized attention, families will more readily escape homelessness.

Because these shelters promise a better future to these families than our current broken system, in one way, I hope the city overcomes my neighbors’ objections and builds the shelter. But, in another sense, if for the wrong reasons, my neighbors are right: no one should want a homeless shelter built in their community.

Each new one our society builds signals a collective failure of will and imagination to think more ambitiously about eradicating homelessness.

We shouldn’t debate where to put shelters and how many persons to house. We should work instead to eliminate the need for shelters. Because, however, it feels as if there are homeless persons on each corner asking us for spare change we can’t conceive of ending homelessness.

We’ve become too well acquainted with the wide range of reactions we experience when we encounter homeless people. We think nothing of walking past someone sleeping on a subway grate. Or we avert our eyes or walk to the other side of the street. Their begging exasperates us or we’re ashamed of our failure to act.

Unable to sort through these conflicting emotions, and overwhelmed by a problem that feels too enormous, we feel powerless to act, and have become too accepting of the status quo.

We need a revival of what Dr. King called, “creative maladjustment,” which refuses to adjust to the scandalous outrage of more than 560,000 persons nationally living without homes. Our maladjustment, I hope, will disquiet us enough to engender the creative solutions necessary to end homelessness.

Bringing together people irrespective of their ideologies, we should create greater solidarity among poor and non-poor persons that encourages them to work to end homelessness. Fully aware it’ a symptom, we’ll understand poverty is the disease we must overcome.

To convince others to end poverty, we should help them understand current government programs and private charitable efforts haven’t lifted 43 million of our brothers and sisters out of poverty.

Programs such as SNAP and Medicaid generate $2 for each dollar spent, and create jobs, and it’s estimated SNAP kept 4.7 million Americans out of poverty in 2014, and Medicaid kept 2.7 million people out of poverty in 2010. These effective programs shouldn’t be cut.

However, the reality of 43 million persons reliant upon SNAP, and 69 million persons reliant upon Medicaid starkly remind us of the great need that stubbornly persists, despite our best efforts and intentions.

In similar ways, programs that help feed families, and help them meet their rent and keep their utilities connected are admirable, but only help so many. Requiring furthermore people go one place for food and another for clothing and three more to pay their bills diminishes their dignity.

And when you spend most of your time and energy scrambling to gather resources to survive, you can’t think about how to create a better future for your family.

Poor persons are best qualified to articulate they deserve much better. And their non-poor allies should empower them to advocate for solutions for their problems: greater societal investment in a stronger safety net, preparing and training people for jobs that pay living wages, affordable housing, food security, affordable and outstanding education, universal health coverage, and safe and peaceful neighborhoods.

Better advocacy by itself won’t overcome poverty, however. Poor persons won’t escape poverty until they can determine, as all people desire, their own futures. With others’ support and that of a better safety net, poor persons will need to avoid the destructive behavior that traps them in poverty and take advantage of the educational, training, and economic opportunities, which present themselves.

But those who don’t believe poor persons can rise or change haven’t paid attention. They’re among the more creative and resourceful people in our society. If we channeled the effort poor persons make gathering resources into creating good jobs or helping poor people own their own businesses, that could mean homelessness and poverty’s demise.

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Breyer Is Right; Court Should Rule Capital Punishment Unconstitutional

 

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The eight justices, who preside at this building should outlaw the death penalty. 

Justice Stephen Breyer is right. The Supreme Court should revisit the death penalty’s constitutionality. And, as he indicates, evidence mounts capital punishment is unconstitutional.

It isn’t the “’worse of the worse’” he said, who are chosen to die, but “individuals are chosen at random, on the basis of geography … or still worse, on the basis of race.”

The data support Breyer’s conclusion. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, 82% of executions occur in 10 southern states, and persons who kill whites are five times more likely to be sentenced to death than those who kill African Americans.

Breyer’s recent statement also echoes the court’s 1972 finding in Furman V. Georgia, which ruled capital punishment unconstitutional.

In his concurring opinion, Justice Potter Stewart wrote: “These death sentences are cruel and unusual in the same way that being struck by lightning is cruel and unusual. … The petitioners are among a capriciously selected random handful upon whom the sentence of death has in fact been imposed.”

Breyer cites Romell Broom’s case to buttress his argument about capital punishment being cruel and unusual. Sentenced to die for the 1984 rape and murder of 14 year-old Tryna Middleton, Broom was scheduled to be executed in Ohio in 2009.

Broom’s executioners jabbed him 18 times unsuccessfully trying, for more than two hours, to find a receptive vein for the drugs, despite his screaming and crying in anguish before the execution was halted.

Earning the dubious distinction as the only person to survive a lethal injection, Broom recently sought relief from the court when Ohio set another execution date for him.

Despite his compelling claims related to cruel and unusual punishment and double jeopardy, the court distressingly refused to hear Broom’s petition. Because Broom’s case raises disturbing questions about cruel and unusual punishment, however, Breyer said he would have heard the case, and Justice Elena Kagan concurred.

Increasingly more commonplace, botched executions like Broom’s underscore death penalty’s cruel and unusual nature. Once thought to be more humane, lethal injections have a 7% botched rate, higher than any other execution method employed in US history, according to “The Daily Beast.”

In 2014, Arizona injected inmate Joseph Wood 15 times with an experimental combination of Hydromorphone and Midazolam. Woods gasped 600 times for more than two hours before he died.

Midazolam also played a role in Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett’s 2014 death. His execution’s observers witnessed the grisly spectacle of Lockett choking and gasping, writhing and grimacing for 43 minutes before he died.

Lethal injections have become more problematic and troubling because states are experimenting with unreliable drugs such as Midazolam to carry out executions. That’s so because drug companies, ethically opposed to their drugs being used to take lives, since 2008, have refused to sell prisons drugs formerly used in executions such as Sodium Thiopental and Nembutal.

And when the huge pharmaceutical company Pfizer recently decided it wouldn’t provide execution drugs any longer, it effectively closed the open market for these drugs.

This has compelled some states such as Georgia and Virginia to shield the identity of drug makers, who sell drugs used in executions. Virginia recently signed a contract to pay a secret supplier $16,500 per execution for lethal injection drugs, 30 times more than what the state used to pay for lethal injection drugs.

This lack of transparency and accountability should trouble even those who support capital punishment, and this deviousness reflects how low some states will sink in the putative name of justice, desperate to maintain a dying system of death.

Besides concerns about botched executions, arbitrariness and racial bias, those raised by 153 innocent persons exonerated from death rows nationally, and exorbitant execution costs have prompted many to reconsider their positions on capital punishment.

And the witness of Sister Helen Prejean, Pope Francis, and murder victims’ family members opposed to capital punishment have grown the movement to abolish the death penalty.

19 states have abolished the death penalty, and Colorado, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Oregon have moratoria on executions. And the number of death sentences juries impose nationally continues to decline from a peak of 316 in 1996 to 49 in 2015.

Public support for capital punishment, more significantly, according to a 2016 Pew Research Poll, has slipped from a high of 80% in 1994 to 49%.

Americans increasingly understand: we can be safe, and hold murderers accountable without sinking to their level. State killings haven’t made society safer or better, or brought closure to murder victims’ families. The court should finally declare this inhumane practice unconstitutional.

 

 

 

 

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Virginians Should Work With Journey of Hope to End State Death Penalty

Governor Terry McAuliffe’s cynical gambit to shield the identities of the drug companies, which supply drugs used in executions will make Virginia’s executions more secretive, especially when you consider they’re already carried out and witnessed by few persons in relative obscurity.

This lack of transparency and accountability should trouble even Virginians who support capital punishment.

Moreover, reputable pharmaceutical companies won’t participate in McAuliffe’s scheme. As Leonard Edloe, President of the American Pharmacists Association Foundation said: McAuliffe’s ploy “undermines everything our profession stands for. Medicines are made to save lives, not end them.”

Industry actions consistently uphold this ethic. The huge pharmaceutical company Pfizer, for instance, recently decided it wouldn’t provide execution drugs any longer, closing the open market for these drugs.

Resisting McAuliffe’s untenable, likely illegal and immoral maneuver Virginians should compel him and his legislative allies to acknowledge Virginia’s death system is dying.

Since capital punishment’s 1976 reinstatement, Virginia has executed 111 persons, the second highest state total in the country. Now, however, only 7 persons are on Virginia’s death row, and Virginia juries haven’t handed down any death sentences since 2011.

With drugs necessary for executions and persons to execute increasingly and practically non-existent, it’s a matter of time before the state ends executions.

More than changing political leaders’ minds, to end Virginia’s death penalty will require changing Virginians’ hearts as well. To move Virginians to support abolition, Virginia death penalty opponents should work with the Journey of Hope, which will be in Northern Virginia June 26 -28.

To learn about the Northern Virginia speaking tour please read the attached.

Journey of Hope members’ stories will convince Virginians to support abolition. Begun in 1993, and led by murder victim family members, this national organization conducts educational tours against the death penalty.

These tours emphasize love, compassion, forgiveness and reconciliation to break the cycle of vengeance, death, and violence prevalent in our society. Marietta Jaeger’s story represents their message well.

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Marietta Jaeger’s journey took her from revenge to forgiveness.

In the summer of 1972, Marietta and her family were on a camping trip in Montana. On the trip’s first night, Marietta stepped over others to reach her youngest child 7-year old Susie to hug her goodnight.

“Oh, mama, not like that,” Susie said when Marietta couldn’t quite wrap her arms around her young daughter. Marietta hugged the insistent Susie and kissed her good night. It was the last time they embraced.

In the middle of the night, a man slit their tent and kidnapped Susie. At the time, Marietta said, “I could kill him with my bare hands and a smile on my face.” A year passed before Marietta discovered Susie’s fate. The kidnapper had raped and killed her.

In that year, Marietta’s Catholic faith helped move her past her rage and desire for revenge. It called her to love her enemy. When the kidnapper called to taunt her on the anniversary of taking Susie, Marietta realized the God in whom she believed viewed Susie’s captor to be as precious as Susie.

Marietta’s compassion for the man, as they talked that night, helped establish the evidence investigators needed to charge him. Marietta believed state killing for Susie’s killer would only add another victim and grieving family and wouldn’t honor Susie’s memory.           

Marietta and other Journey members re-live the worst experiences of their lives to show us the way to peace. Virginians who want peace should embrace the Journey’s message of love and compassion for all of humanity and gently usher Virginia’s death penalty out the door.

 

 

 

 

 

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Healing Catholic Divisions in Year of Mercy

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My parish: St. Joseph’s on Capitol Hill, where Democrat and Republican Senators, conservative think tank staff and Democratic strategists worship together.

Divisions within the US Catholic church dispirit. Mirroring American cultural divides, too many Catholics identify as progressive and conservative. Progressives tend to concern themselves with poverty, immigration, workers’ rights, war and peace and climate change while conservatives focus on abortion, euthanasia, religious freedom and gay marriage.

Persons within these factions insist you believe as they do on each issue, and if you feel a certain way about societal issues, you must feel the same way about church issues. And persons within these factions conflate the person’s policies with the person.

For conservatives, Obamacare embodies everything wrong with the man and progressive policies, and to progressives the Ryan Budget reflects everything that’s wrong with the Republican leader and conservative policies. And some Catholics hold the extreme view: the persons holding these views are bad persons.

Angry, overly personal Catholic disagreements counter the gospel message of love and mercy, and healing these divisions would be a good way for Catholics to demonstrate mercy in the Year of Mercy. Other Catholics should learn from the experience of Nebraska’s progressive and conservative Catholics.

In the summer of 2015, Catholics there worked with others to repeal Nebraska’s death penalty, offering hope Catholics can heal their divisions. These church advocates discovered capital punishment, which has long been considered a progressive cause, isn’t a progressive or conservative issue, but a Catholic one.

As Catholics we’re urged to work against the death penalty as we do to stop abortion because we must defend life at all stages and in all circumstances. That’s the fundamental philosophy informing the church’s seamless garment approach, which views abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty, war, militarism, poverty and racism as connected threats to the sanctity and dignity of human life.

If conservative and progressive Catholics embraced this consistent ethic, they could unite to create a culture of life that promotes social justice and peace. Catholics could also find common ground with the 80% of Americans, according to a 2014 Gallup Poll, who aren’t consistently liberal or conservative. Promoting life and finding common ground, Catholics could do more for the common good and God’s Reign.

This will require Catholics repudiating the animosity that has marked our cultural and political arguments because only love will convert persons who disagree with us. Leading with love will liberate Catholics from the cultural compulsion to take sides and from the boxes in which they find themselves.

When this happens, Catholics will learn to become comfortable just being Catholic, nothing else. We may never achieve unanimity, but we’ll grow closer if we recall what we have in common.

Broken sinners, all need God’s grace and mercy, and want, however imperfectly, to follow the Lord. The Eucharist nourishes all, and the gospel and church teachings inspire all to live their faith.

Recalling this mutuality should urge Catholics who disagree with each other to worship and pray more together, listen more to others’ stories of their faith journeys, spend more time together studying the scriptures and what the church says about today’s issues, and engage in service and advocacy.

When Catholics live their faith more closely together, they’ll develop a greater appreciation of, gratitude for and commitment to their rich and distinctive tradition. The more Catholics defend life, the more they’ll advocate justice, and the more Catholics work for peace, the more they’ll uphold all persons’ dignity.

Defending life, advocating justice, working for peace, uplifting dignity, Catholics will increasingly become the church the Pope has called us to be: one that encounters persons on the peripheries, that’s poor and stands with poor persons.

Honoring these actions that mark us as Catholic, and celebrating ourselves as just Catholic, we’ll work to become just Catholics. We’ll extend love and mercy to: the man awaiting execution, the unborn child, the woman on food stamps, the man sleeping on our streets, children fleeing war zones, and even, especially those who disagree with us.

 

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My Great- Grandfather, Officer JT Branson

On this corner, Christmas Day 1881, a mob assaulted my Great- Grandfather. Read on to find out what happened next.

In March 1892, my maternal Great- Grandfather, Officer JT Branson, a District mounted policeman, dismounted his horse Honest Dave.

Patrolling Good Hope Road in Southeast Washington, JT saw a runaway horse galloping directly at him. His heart likely racing, sheer dread replacing astonishment, he tried to corral the horse. But it turned and kicked JT, cutting his skull.

The blow knocked him unconscious for a month, and for several months, JT’s life hung in the balance, as his wife Serena, and seven children, including his oldest son Taylor, my Grandfather – prayed fervently for his recovery.

Nursed back to health, on September 17, 1892, JT was, in a Washington Evening Star reporter’s felicitous phrase, “back on the Good Hope beat.”

I discovered this story about my Great- Grandfather while researching my family history for my book about my aunts Sisters Serena and Anna Marie Branson DC.

Before conducting this research, I knew my Great- Grandfather regarded himself a “country fiddler,” who wanted my Grandfather to become a violinist. And JT good-naturedly called his son “Pete” after “Pete Tumbledown,” a 19th Century comics’ character known for his clumsiness.

I didn’t know JT’s 25 year career was filled with “stirring police work,” according to The Star.

Stirring understates the danger, violence, and calamity my Great- Grandfather experienced as a policeman. Once trying to stable Honest Dave, several dogs jumped at the horse and spooked it, and Honest Dave threw JT into a fence, cutting his face.

JT, on another occasion, observed a platform being broken down when one of the timbers broke loose, hitting JT in the head, requiring several stitches.

As serious as these accidents and injuries were, my Great- Grandfather faced situations that threatened his life more. The following incident may have been the most dramatic episode in JT’s career.

On Christmas Day 1881, JT, as the National Republican reported, tried to arrest a homeless African American woman, who was drunk and creating a disturbance at 3rd and L Sts. SW. The woman’s brother, a “known rowdy and thief,” led a mob, who threw stones at JT and grabbed at and knocked him down.

JT broke free, and shot his gun. The bullet hit the brother on his right side below his heart as he ran. As JT helped his partner arrest the woman, who bit the partner’s finger, the woman’s wounded brother escaped.

Some now, sensitive to the situation’s volatility and racial dynamics, may suggest the situation could have been diffused. We shouldn’t, however, judge previous generations too harshly because they didn’t share our insights, expectations and standards.

JT acted in self defense, without vengeance or deadly force. Beset as he was, his actions were admirably restrained.

JT was also a devoted father and a devout Catholic. He and Serena were charter members of St. Teresa of Avila parish. He was a member of the Catholic fraternal order the Knights of America, and must have been especially proud when Pete accompanied the church choir on violin.

JT retired in June 1904, and died July 1905. He was 54. I don’t know his death’s cause, but it’s safe to say, JT was worn out.

He likely would have been most pleased to know his son became the Marine Band’s first violinist, and later the 20th leader of the band 1927 -1940. That may be JT’s proudest legacy, but he lives on in other significant ways.

Five generations of Bransons received his great gift of faith. Pete ardently lived his faith, and his daughters’ Serena and Anna Marie’s extraordinary lives of service most dramatically testified to the faith the Bransons inherited.

JT’s intrepidity lived in Serena’s advocacy before legislators for justice for poor persons, his determination in my mom Ellen, who didn’t give up on the people she loved and his exhausting self-sacrifice in Anna Marie’s service to Bolivia’s indigenous poor.

Although I can’t measure up to my forebears, I try to follow their lead. I’ve lived among and worked with good people, who, confronting poverty, racism, and violence, have nonetheless welcomed me and encouraged me to be intrepid and determined pursuing justice.

I’m grateful I’ve recovered some of my Great-Grandfather’s history, which may have been otherwise lost. Having rescued JT’s history, I want his descendants, especially his newest one – my Grand- Niece Mary Claire – to know it.

I hope some day Mary Claire tells her kids about JT’s courage protecting and serving the city where she was born and his love of God and family.

As they lean forward and incline their ears, they’ll know something of the blood that courses through and the spirit that lives within them.

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Murder Victim Families Can Change President on Death Penalty

Journey of Hope Founders Sam Sheppard, George White, Bill Pelke, SueZann Bosler and Marietta Jaeger with Sister Helen Prejean CSJ (center front.)

Journey of Hope Founders Sam Sheppard, George White, Bill Pelke, SueZann Bosler and Marietta Jaeger with Sister Helen Prejean CSJ (center front).

President Obama, according to his former law professor, Harvard’s Charles Ogletree Jr., is close to opposing the death penalty. I’ve worked to abolish capital punishment for 31 years and would welcome his support.

Obama should advocate for the end of the federal death penalty and offer hope for possible reprieves to the 62 persons awaiting executions in federal prisons. The President’s advocacy for abolition would furthermore send a powerful message to the 31 states, which still have the death penalty: it’s days are numbered.

Obama has held the death penalty should be reserved for the worst offenders, but concerns about racial bias in capital punishment’s application may prompt the President to change his position.

I hope the fact persons who kill white persons are three to six more times more likely to receive death sentences compels Obama to conclude, like former Supreme Court Justice Blackmun, he “will no longer tinker with the machinery of death.”

If, however, the President still needs persuasion to change his position on capital punishment, perhaps listening to the Journey of Hope members’ stories will convince Obama to support abolition.

I serve on the Journey of Hope’s board. Begun in 1993, and led by murder victim family members, this national organization conducts educational tours against the death penalty.

Beginning with a World Day Against the Death Penalty Conference in Dallas, the Journey will conduct a tour in Texas October 9 -25. These tours emphasize love, compassion, forgiveness and reconciliation to break the cycle of vengeance, death, and violence prevalent in our society. Journey members embraced their messages of hope through experiencing a family member’s murder.

After 15-year-old African American Paula Cooper was sentenced to death for stabbing his beloved grandmother Ruth Pelke 33 times to death in May 1985, Bill Pelke, the Journey’s President, thought the death penalty was justified.

However, the white crane operator from Indiana, while sitting atop his crane on morning in November 1986, was brought to tears, recalling his Nana preached Jesus’ message of forgiveness to everyone she met.

Her example converted Pelke to become part of an international movement that spared Cooper’s life in 1989, because she was a juvenile at the murder’s time.

Emotion almost overcame Pelke when he re-told his story at the annual Fast and Vigil against the death penalty outside the Supreme Court in July. It was first time he spoke publicly about Cooper’s recent suicide, a few days after the anniversary of Ruth’s murder.

Although tragic death has cycled painfully full for him, Pelke still believes “love and compassion for all of humanity is the answer.”

Also speaking that night, SueZann Bosler, faced unique challenges learning to forgive as Pelke has.

On December 22, 1986, Bosler was 24 and happy. She and her dad the Reverend Billy Bosler planned to travel to Indiana to meet her first niece and his first granddaughter. That day, she wanted to do some last-minute Christmas shopping.

As she got ready in her bedroom at the Church of the Brethren Parsonage in Opa-Locka, Florida, where her father was the pastor, Bosler heard strange moans from the living room.

When Bosler investigated, she discovered a man stabbing her dad. Bosler went to help her dad, and the man stabbed her in the head.

High on drugs, James Bernard Campbell stabbed Rev. Bosler 24 times to death, and Bosler 5 times. She only survived because she played dead, and several surgeries repaired her brain injuries.

As a preacher’s kid, Bosler had been taught forgiveness was central to her faith, and she publicly forgave Campbell, while privately conceiving ways to hurt him.

Five and half years after the murder at a second sentencing hearing for Campbell, Bosler finally understood the depth of her forgiveness when she said, “James Bernard Campbell, I forgive you.”

Her new understanding liberated Bosler. And despite a Judge’s threat to cite her for contempt for objecting to the death penalty, the white hairdresser fought to save the life of the African American man who assaulted her and killed her dad.

June 13, 1997 Bosler considers her day of victory because that day a jury voted to spare Campbell’s life.

As Bosler told her story that July night, her throat caught when she said it upset her when others implied her support for Campbell meant she didn’t love her dad or cherish his memory.

She worked to end capital punishment to honor her dad, who opposed the death penalty, and whose favorite hymn was Let There Be Peace on Earth.

Bosler, Pelke and other Journey members re-live the worst experiences of their lives to show us the way to peace. Their heroic testimonies, I hope will convince the President to urge others to embrace the peace that comes from abolition.

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