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See. Judge. Act.

Do the names Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee, and Tawakkul Karman mean anything to you? Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the president of Liberia, Leymah Gbowee is a peace activist, and Tawakkul Karman is a human rights activist. This year, each of them was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.


What makes their achievements even more special? They are women. These women now join the likes of Mother Teresa, Jane Addams, Betty Williams, and Mairead Corrigan as Nobel laureates. Of the 101 individuals awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, only 15 are women. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman are from countries with oppressive laws and cultures that they were able to rise above to find their voices and not just speak out, but scream out about the longstanding suppression of the rights of women and of the total disregard for women as human beings.


I am not raising these women up for reflection simply because they are women. I am raising them up because they would not accept the view in their societies that they did not deserve respect. They had not just seen the impact of violence on women in their society; they had experienced it and made a conscious choice to do something about it.


What they have in common is a vision that all women have a role to play in the effort to bring peace to all people. Their common goal is to put all eyes on the women of their countries and to let us see how inhumanely they are being treated in areas where rape, assault, and degradation are commonplace. Through the efforts of these three women, we are all being forced to see what they have seen. Will we look? And what will we do with what we have seen?


As Christians, we are guided by the Gospel mandates to reach out to those in need, no matter their status. We are also guided by the social teaching of our church, which directs our choices towards decisions that will produce the best results for everyone. The words “See, Judge, Act” are the guides that we follow when making choices that put the good of all ahead of the desires of special interest groups. We all can’t win the Nobel Prize, but we all can lead lives of charity and justice, of mercy and peace.


Let us be in solidarity with the women like Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee, and Tawakkul Karman, who cannot allow injustices to exist. Let us pray for each other every day that we can continue to be more like Christ in our actions and decisions about each other.


Sister Pat is a member of the RENEW staff, a Dominican Sister, and a huge Notre Dame Fightin’ Irish fan.

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One Response to “See. Judge. Act.”

  1. Honora says:

    Pat I loved the connection to See Judge Act; I am currently reading Leymah Gbowee’s autobiography; what courageous women they are. They sure did not have it easy. Wonderful models for young women today.

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