Wider View Archive

An Earth Day reflection

April 19, 2019 Thirdway

  As we approach Earth Day, it is a good time to reflect on the United States’ global commitments to address the causes and effects of climate change. In 2015, countries from around the world came together to write the Paris Agreement, a legally binding accord to address climate change. The agreement seeks to keep global temperature rise below two degrees Celsius through a global response and to help countries address the negative impacts of climate change. All 193 member countries of the United Nations have signed on to the accord. The U.S. is the only country to subsequently reject […]

Peacebuilding through Advocacy and Diplomacy

April 5, 2019 Thirdway

In the days following the summit in Hanoi between the United States and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea), the Korea Peace Network (KPN) met with congressional offices in Washington, D.C. to advocate for ongoing diplomatic efforts and legislation that supports peace on the Korean Peninsula. Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is a founding member of KPN, a coalition of civil society groups and individuals dedicated to promoting humanitarian access, peacebuilding and reconciliation for Koreans on the Peninsula and in the U.S. Faith leads us to a broader view of God’s kingdom and calls us to participate in […]

Confronting the fear of our history

March 29, 2019 Thirdway

“Yet we Christians have also been called to take a good hard look at ourselves. To reflect on our Christian beliefs, to scrutinize our missional practices. And to decolonize. It’s not that Christianity is inherently colonial, but for generations the Church and its faith have been used – wittingly, unwittingly, and far too often – as instruments of dispossession in the settler colonial arsenal. Indigenous peoples are asking the Church to our own work, to beat our colonial swords into peaceable ploughshares.” – pg. xvi Unsettling the word This is a quote taken from Unsettling the Word: Biblical experiments in decolonization. The book is a collection of […]

Hostilities in our hearts and lives

On Ash Wednesday, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) issued a Lenten reflection on gun violence prevention. The reflection calls for inward reflection as well as external action to address gun violence in our society. Policy changes alone will not end gun violence in the United States. But a review of 130 studies in 10 countries suggests that stricter gun policies lead to a reduction in gun deaths. Policy proposals in the U.S. context include expanded background checks, safe storage laws, mandatory reporting of lost or stolen weapons, and a ban on assault weapons. Proposals such as these would not infringe on […]

Reducing electoral violence

March 8, 2019 Charles Kwuelum

Countries invest a lot of resources in national elections but sometimes the process is accompanied by violence, leading to the destruction of lives, property and livelihoods and perpetuating cycles of trauma. Nigeria’s recently concluded presidential elections were regarded as relatively peaceful, but incidents of localized violence and electoral misconduct affected the credibility of the elections. More than one million people were unable to cast their votes due to violence around polling centers and millions more were disenfranchised for other reasons. After the results were announced, celebrations sparked violence in some parts of the country. Violence around elections in countries such […]

Border walls: A simple fix?

February 22, 2019 Tammy Alexander

By Tammy Alexander, Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office There is general agreement that monitoring the flow of people and goods across the U.S.-Mexico border is a necessary government function. This is especially true when it comes to efforts to restrict the flow of illicit drugs and human trafficking. However, there are disagreements among both policymakers and the public about how best to accomplish this, particularly when it comes to the construction of border walls and fences. Those disagreements are sometimes expressed with extreme language, when those who favor building walls are portrayed as racist and hating immigrants and those who […]

A first step for criminal justice reform

February 8, 2019 Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach

After years of work by advocates, including many constituents of Mennonite Central Committee, criminal justice reform legislation was signed into law by President Trump on December 21. The law is called the First Step Act and it is just that—a first step. Additional reforms are still needed to address mass incarceration in the U.S., which disproportionately affects communities of color. But first, what will the new law do? It will reduce a number of mandatory minimum sentences and allow judges more discretion when sentencing individuals. The “three-strike” rule, which imposed a life sentence if someone is convicted of three or […]

A steep climb for asylum seekers

February 1, 2019 Charissa Zehr

“Why don’t people wait their turn? They should just get in line!” These lines are often tossed around in the debates about families and individuals crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. The distinction that many make between migrants who enter our country “legally” and those “sneaking in” between ports is a deceptive comparison. Many migrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border are seeking asylum, which can be claimed at any entry point—bridge, road, desert or otherwise. Yet border officials in both the U.S. and Mexico have been actively preventing families from seeking protection through asylum and spreading deliberate misinformation. U.S. Customs and Border […]

Peace is not simply words

January 30, 2019 Thirdway

In November, the Ottawa Office was pleased to host Syrian peacemaker S. Laham, (full name withheld for security purposes) formerly with MCC partner Middle East Council of Churches (MECC), for meetings with Canadian policymakers about Syria. Director Anna Vogt spoke with Laham about MECC’s work and his message for Canada. Here is a condensed and edited version of Laham’s reflections.    The Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) has been involved in humanitarian work since its establishment in 1974 as a communion of churches in the Middle East. MECC started by supporting Palestinian refugees, then those impacted by civil wars in Lebanon and Iraq, […]

Free speech and economic choices

January 18, 2019 Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach

Esther Koontz, a math teacher from First Mennonite in Hutchinson, Kansas, wanted to contract with the state of Kansas to train math teachers. But as a condition of her employment, the state required her to pledge that she does not support economic boycotts against Israel or Israeli settlements. As a matter of conscience Esther refused to sign, and she was denied the contract. The American Civil Liberties Union took Esther’s case to court and in January 2018, a federal judge issued a favorable preliminary ruling, saying that boycotts are a protected form of free speech. The state of Kansas amended […]