- from Alderson
Ponderings From the Eternal Now
A beautiful card arrived this past month with a quote from the French philosopher, Marcel: "Hope is the memory of the future." All month I pondered those words and found them so appropriate. As most of you know, our lawyers had oral argument on our appeal October 1st. While I hold no optimism that we will win the appeal, I am filled with hope.
Hope is of the spirit, Hope is of the heart. Our lawyers have been filled with both spirit and heart as they have once again spoken/written "truth to power." I have hope because once again folks gathered at the missile silos in Colorado and exposed America's Weapons of Mass Destruction while standing for nonviolence and life. As my friends at the 8th Day Center in Chicago wrote, "We don't know the way, we hope the way."
In 1934, Federal Prison Industries, Inc. (UNICOR) was established by Congress. The primary mission was and is to provide prisoners with work opportunities and training while in prison. Our UNICOR factory closed last month to get ready for a new function - a telemarketing call center. Our former factory was a garment industry for the military. For example, one of the contracts was for the flight jacket President Bush wore last Thanksgiving in Iraq.
The transition will take about 4 - 6 months. This new prison work is dubbed "insourcing". About a dozen states have call centers in state and federal prisons. These jobs would have been " outsourced" and gone to countries like India and the Philippines. While prison officials are praising the program for lowering recidivism rates the unions have criticized them for taking jobs from the public sector.
The women here (about 125) will work for slave wages for a private company that was going to move off-shore. Rumor is that the contract here will be with AT&T. Fact is that between 250 and 275 employees at AT&T in Charleston, West Virginia are losing their jobs and benefits in November. Some of the women here are consciously choosing not to return when the new contract begins because they realize it is taking jobs from people on the streets - their families....
We have been watching all the woolly creatures and wondering how severe our winter will be. We stand in awe of the mountains and the changing colors...
My heart is full of gratitude for each of you. May you take time for the gifts of the Autumn season. May you know how very much you are loved. May you find hope and remember, "Hope is the memory of the future."
[Sr. Carol Gilbert is serving 33 months in federal prison for inspecting, exposing, and symbolically disarming a nuclear missile in Colorado, as part of the Sacred Earth and Space Plowshares.]