Century Marks

Century Marks

Resistance

At least six Buddhist monks have died by self-immolation this year in protests against China's political crackdown in the Tibetan regions of China. In Tibet, monks are not even allowed to celebrate the Dalai Lama's birthday. The Dalai Lama himself has taken a moderate path in opposing  Chinese rule, urging China to give Tibetans autonomy but not complete independence. Despite their devotion to the Dalai Lama, Tibetans debate whether his approach has been effective. Some predict that Tibet will explode in protests after he dies (Time, November 14).

Lost victims

Sexual abusers tend to be narcissistic and grandiose, says Father James Martin SJ, reflecting on the similarities between sexual abuse cases in the Catholic Church and those alleged to have taken place in the Penn State University football program. The narcissist thinks only of his own needs and personal gratification. Once a sexual abuser is called to account, he often focuses on his own suffering, thinking that a grave injustice has been done to him, and asks for sympathy. What's lost is concern for the victims (Guest Voices, Washington Post, November 13).

Taxing the 1 percent

Obama's health-care reform is financed in large part by increasing the Medicare tax on the wealthiest of Americans and increasing taxes on investments. Those who make more than $1 million a year would pay an additional $37,381 in annual taxes. The top 400 taxpayers would pay, on average, an additional $11 million annually (Rolling Stone, November 24).

Gutsy act

In 1934, a 17-year-old girl was about to go on stage to do a dance routine during amateur night at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. But the act preceding her featured a dance duo whose performance was so good that the girl decided she couldn't follow it with a dance. She decided to sing instead, even though she had never sung in public and didn't even know whether she could sing. That girl was named Ella Fitzgerald (interview with Michael Meade, The Sun, November).

Time for silence

When Job's friends first showed up, they sat with him in silence for seven days and nights (2:11–13). They should have kept their mouths closed. Rather than attending to Job's pain, they voiced their own ideas about justice and suffering. In her seminary course on grief, Janet L. Ramsey gives examples of what not to say to people in deep pain: "This too will pass." "Your faith is strong enough to get you through." "I know how you feel." The most important thing is to be present and listen to the person and the Holy Spirit. Appropriate comments include an acknowledgment of the difficulty the person is facing and encouraging words about God's loving and abiding presence (Word & World, Fall).