Haz Justicia

Immediately after writing in my first post…

“…here I am, setting up our new blog. Where I’m going to focus on worthy things in our lives (if not always good), while staying out of the Facebook slipstream. But until “D-Day,” I’ll probably just muse about the pain of getting off Facebook…”

… I thought to myself…

“…OH FOR CRYING OUT LOUD THAT IS LAME. PLEASE DO NOT END UP USING THIS THING TO PROSELYTIZE ABOUT QUITTING FACEBOOK.”

So I swearsies, guys, I’ve been trying to avoid that, and instead slowly acclimate you all, dear readers, to the state of our lives: where we are with leaving the city, buying the house, raising the Sammypants, etc.

And also the stuff that makes us us.

So here’s a little something that makes Lisa, Lisa. It’s the highlight of my week so far, and I think it might inspire me to create a “highlights” category for posts, and try to think of, or LIVE, a highlight every week worth sharing.

{{{SCOOBY DOO EFFECT}}}

As an undergrad at Michigan, I had the great pleasure to meet a fellow art history major named Russ. Russ is by far one of the most intelligent, compassionate, funny, disciplined, hardworking people I know. We became friends instantly. Although we were technically the same year, however, Russ made me look like a slacker. He was outta there in three years, graduating from the honors program with a second major on top of it all and off to Columbia Law School.

We stayed friends, though, as Russ went on to a big time law career in New York City and I stayed in the Midwest and painfully pursued art history (yes, it can be done). Then Russ moved to Seattle and became a supercool lawyer for Starbucks, and I moved to San Francisco to do… more stuff. Still we stayed friends.

Lisa, Munga, and Russ.

Lisa, Munga, and Russ at Point Reyes National Seashore in 2009.

And somewhere in there, Russ introduced me to an organization he was involved with: Association for a More Just Society.

Now, I am not a religious person. They ARE a Christian organization. But I became a supporter of AJS. Right away. And not just because the smartest person I know was involved with them (even though that’s usually enough to get me to do stuff; take note). Because as I followed what Russ and his fellow AJS-ers were doing, I was extremely moved. Their simple mission to “answer God’s call to act justly” (Micah 6:8) was just so… so…

Christian.

I had found people who in fact practiced what they preached. How novel, in this world. And THAT’S something I have tremendous respect for.

The staff and volunteers of AJS are not missionaries. They are people like Russ — they are lawyers and activists who believe that remaining passive in the face of their neighbor’s need is a rejection of their faith. And although I am not religious, this is basically at the core of my own belief system.

Their focus is in the Central American nation of Honduras, where they’ve been using their top-notch organizing and lawyering skills for many years to chip away at all kinds of horrible ills: gang violence, police corruption, land rights travesties, sexual abuse. Most importantly, they’re attempting to create systems and put tools and power into the hands of the Honduran people so that they can stabilize their own country. “Transformemos Honduras.”

So, I’m not trying to get you to go give them money, too (okay — maybe I am just a little bit). The point is, I’ve given them money. And apparently, over the years, it’s added up to something, because a couple weeks ago I was contacted by one of their staffers whom I’ve had the pleasure of emailing with/speaking with on the phone through the years. She informed me that she and one of AJS’s founders were coming to California, and they wanted to pay me a visit.

I was incredibly flattered. And even more flattered when it actually happened (ah, Michiganders…)!

Last night, I met them for coffee in Oakland after work, on the absolute wettest, windiest, most stinkerific night of the year so far. Just the three of us. I got to know them a little personally, and they, me. And then they caught me up on their work, in their own words.

They told me about what it’s like, working in the wake of the 2009 Honduran military coup (if you don’t know about that, read about it here). About the national desperation, now that Honduras has the highest murder rate per capita in the world. Even the Peace Corps has up and left.

About what it was like to have one of their lawyers murdered, and how they managed to triumphantly bring his killers to justice in one of the world’s most corrupt police states.

Dionisio Díaz García, 1962 - 2006

Dionisio Díaz García, 1962 - 2006 (image credit: http://www.ajs-us.org)

About how they’re continuing to have more success than ever, amid all this chaos.

I barely got out of there without blubbering. I did manage to ask Jo Ann, though, if she could please come help the people of Oakland reestablish trust in their law enforcement when she was done in Honduras. I don’t know if she’s got the time, but wouldn’t that be nice?

Driving home in the pouring rain, I called Munga to tell her about our conversation, so she could tell my sister, who’s starting law school at American University this fall (and who I guess I can’t call myself). I wanted her to be inspired. Saroots — although also not religious — is like these people. She is one of them. She could do work like this.

There are people like me, who believe in justice, and will give everything we have to support it, and there are people like the lawyers of AJS, who do justice.

Haz Justicia.

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4 thoughts on “Haz Justicia

  1. Lisa, I am tremendously proud of what you have written and what you have done. I have read it to the grandparents and will share it with your sister, who should be incredibly flattered by what you have said about her. Yes, she could do this. Yes, I hope she does. I am happy that you can spread the word to the rest of us so we can learn about the important work being done by Russ and these good people. I am a Christian. How could I do anything else? But even if you aren’t a Christian, how could you do anything else? I hope that it gets noticed.

  2. […] to God, on more than one occasion. He, after all, is the person who first introduced me to the Association for a More Just Society. He lives his life with the utmost integrity and a commitment to the greater good (he also […]

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