Speech for a Peacemaker Award
NC Peace Action honored Patrick O’Neill and Mary Rider at their annual dinner on September 19, 2017. Below is the text of Mary Rider’s speech. She reports:
“I was pleasantly surprised that they included our consistent life witness, since so many are the more typical leftist peaceniks (read “prochoice”). I wanted to speak the truth in a way that I thought folks could hear me, so it may seem a bit weak on abortion to you, but I had some good dialogue with people after the dinner and think it was a good opening for them to hear me rather than just hear about me. Our friends, Dave and Debbie Biesack presented us with the award and mentioned our consistent life work, and Patrick, in his remarks, spoke about our being prolife “from conception until natural death.” So, all in all, I’d say the Consistent Life Ethic was well represented at the Peace Action dinner!”
Thank you for honoring us tonight. Patrick, our daughter Bernadette, Sr. Kitty Bethea and I moved to Garner in 1991 to start the first Catholic Worker House in NC. Our dear friend, Father Charlie Mulholland was in Garner at the time and was our Chaplain.
1991 was quite a while ago and a lot has happened in our lives, in our state and in the world since then. We are honored and humbled to have been working with you all on trying to bring some peace and some justice to our state and our world.
Those who know me well know that I am “prolife.” That doesn’t mean that I am out picketing at clinics. What it means is that I am pro-everybody’s life. I want to see the kind of supports in place in our society that will help a woman to choose not to have an abortion whether her child has a disability or the mother’s on her own and needs financial and loving support or help in finishing her education. As a feminist I believe women should receive equal pay for equal work, maternity leave that gives us real time with our newborns and good options for childcare and job sharing.
But that’s not all. I’m prolife on the death penalty. I was on the board of People of Faith Against the Death Penalty for a number of years and once spent 15 days in jail for kneeling in front of Central Prison the night the state of North Carolina executed Sammy Flippen in our names. That was the last time the state of North Carolina executed anyone in more than 10 years.
I’m prolife on immigration. I believe that people who are in the U.S. without benefit of papers should be given a chance to have legal standing in our country and a path to citizenship.
I’m prolife on healthcare. I believe it is a RIGHT not a privilege and everyone should have access to good health care.
And I’m prolife on peace which means I am opposed to nuclear war. I’m opposed to “conventional war” (whatever THAT means). I’m opposed to drone warfare. I’m just opposed to us killing each other, be it in the name of God or country or, if we want to be honest about it, in the name of oil and money and power.
So I stand her tonight pledging to you that I will continue to be prolife by opposing violence in all its forms: Racist violence, Sexist Violence, LGBTQ Violence, Economic Violence and Environmental Violence.
I hope that someone will say about me what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wanted people to say about him: “I’d like for somebody to say that day that (I) tried to love somebody. Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that i was a drum major for peace.”
In closing I’d like to read to you an easy essay written by Peter Maurin, a frenchman who founded the Catholic Worker with Dorothy Day. He gives some good advice as to what we are to do in times such as this.
by Peter Maurin
The world would be better off if people tried to be better.
And people would become better if they stopped trying to be better off.
For when everybody tries to become better off, nobody is better off.
But when everybody tries to become better, everybody is better off.
Everybody would be rich if nobody tried to become richer.
And nobody would be poor if everybody tried to be poorest.
And everybody would be what we ought to be if everybody tried to be what we want the other one to be!
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