Thomas Merton Center

I’m in Buenos Aires, visiting a Catholic parish elementary school that wants to renew its curriculum, integrating media education. They don’t want to re-do that old media education model of “I’ll show you how to de-code TV and properly defend yourself.” No one-dimensional approach here. They want to affirm as well as critique. But resources are a problem.
Several years ago The Argentina government started funding private as well as public schools. Surprise! Private schools now have yet another source of funds.
Poor children must go to public schools, underfunded, where they receive poor education. Resurrection parish school grew out of the need to upgrade the level of education in the parish community, becoming a kind of hybrid between a private and public school, involving the poor, but able to leverage other sources of income. As you walk in this little school, you just feel happy.
It is a fun, warm place that is beginning to enthusiastically explore and discuss free/open computer software and the benefits of open source sites for education.
I was feeling so hopeful….Then I get news that the FBI in the US is taking pictures and spying on The Thomas Merton Center in Pittsburgh. The FBI, in a memo,points out that the Merton Center “is a left-wing organization advocating, among many political causes, pacifism.”
I demonstrated and picketed in Houston before we went into Iraq, feeling a sense of dread and desperation. I have little doubt that our FBI has pictures of me holding my sign. There were about 10 of us at first,,,then as time went on we were several hundred. If groups like these continue to grow, The FBI will need super powerful computers to secretely hold all of those pictures and files.
Maybe when they get bored with spying on Catholic peace makers, they won’t have need for so much computer power and…..they will share their old computers with some of the Catholic schools in Argentina.
AM

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