I sat in on a Passover Seder last night at the Holy Trinity Newman Center at Northern Arizona University. Then gave a talk to the group. (The Seder commemorates the Exodus of the Jewish slaves from Egypt.) During the ceremonial dinner there were readings about how hard the Egyptians worked the Jews, having them carry heavy stone “and toiling long hours in the fields.” At one point in the dinner, you eat a bitter herb to commemorate the bitterness of slavery. Toward the end of the dinner, the promise is that because of the pain these people knew first hand, they would stridently “defend liberty” in return… After the dinner I said to the some 40 college students that it was no longer Old Testament times, but rather: “the year 2006.” (I try to stay up on these things.) And I said in our current time, there were still “slaves” worldwide. (All you have to do is read Amnesty International’s literature.) I said among this slave population, I believed, were many of the illegal immigrants in this country who are ‘toiling in the fields” of the San Joaquin Valley in 110 degree temperatures sun up to sun down for minimum wage, or less. Or they are ‘carrying’ heavy burdens in the garment district sweat shops of L.A. and New York. Or they are sweating in the frigid cold, or oppressive heat, of chicken processing plants in the Midwest. Or… Then I said why many of these people leave family, friends, culture, country, is because their children are hungry or they are under political oppression. I told the students about traveling to Juarez, Mexico, where people work for $3 a shift in multi-national factories and live in cobbled together shacks with no running water, no electricity, and their children are hungry. Then there is Heraldina in Nicaragua. Tiffin, Ohio’s Sr. Paulette Schroeder told me she heard Heraldina’s story during a trip to Nicaragua on a “Witness for Peace” tour. She said Contra forces had undertaken a campaign of terror there to undermine strides toward moving people out of poverty. In one village, she said grenades started exploding amidst intermittent gunfire. Heraldina grabbed her eight-month-old child and ran. A bullet pierced her back and lodged in the leg of the baby. Heraldina survived, barely. The baby lost his leg… I asked the students if they were living in a similar situation, how many would seek refuge in, say, America? Everyone raised their hands… I then exhorted the students to not come away from the dinner with just a bunch of empty symbolism about the “bitterness” of slavery and the “sweetness” of freedom. But rather, the night should motivate them to help free those in bondage to slavery today. I exhorted them to protest in solidarity with the immigration rallies of today. To flood their campus and local newspapers with letter to the editor about social justice for the illegal immigrants. I asked them to consider setting up a Sister Church project with a Church in Latin America to get as much help to the people there who want to stay, but are in seemingly dead-end situations… And I closed by saying none of the people in the room were “poor college students.” I said that was an absolute myth fostered by our insular socio-economic class system here. That is, if they were living in a dorm room with central heat and air, a nice bed, couch and CD player, a full refrigerator and full closet… and what’s more, were moving toward a career that would set them up nicely in suburban America — they were, in fact, “among the most privileged in a world — where billions live in abject poverty.” And there was one other perception they might want to lose as well, I said. That is, no matter what profession they were aiming at — “it isn’t any more important than a farm worker’s job.” That is, a farm worker helps provide us with life giving food, I said. So even if society doesn’t acknowlege (monetarily, or status wise) that a farm worker’s job is as important as, say, a lawyer, or accountant, or stock broker — “at least now you know,” I said. And I continued it something God knew as well. “So,” I said, “if you leave here and begin making, say, “$45,000 a year, and decide to spend most of it on yourself as opposed to sharing close to half of it with a farm worker and his family (who is making $7,000 a year and doing just as important a job, if not more important) what do you suppose God might say to you at Judgement? I told the students He might, oh, echo the passage in Isaiah 10 about: turning aside the needy from justice and robbing the poor of their right. Later in that passage it asks specifically of those who rob the poor of their right: “What will you do on the day of Judgement?”… An apt question, not only for all the college students currently moving into “Generation Me” — but for all of us. Note: In Flagstaff, Arizona, the other day I saw a bumper sticker that read: “Lord, help me to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am.”

About Joe Schriner

Common man, Common sense, Uncommon solutions. "In an era when presidential campaigns run on multi-million dollar war chests, lavish fundraising dinners and high gloss television ads, Joe Schriner is a different breed of candidate." - The Herald, Monterey, California. Joe at a glance... Age: 56. Family: Husband of 17 years, and father. Faith: Catholic. Home state: Ohio. Graduate of Bowling Green State University. Journalist and author. Also a former addictions counselor, with an emphasis on family systems. Independent presidential candidate in four successive election cycles. On the road campaigning extensively. In between campaign tours, now does part-time house painting and light handyman work to make ends meet (aka: Joe the painter). Volunteer work with: Brown County (OH) Board of Mental Health; Catholic Worker outreach to the poor in the inner city of Cleveland; We Are the Uninsured Healthcare Movement in Ohio. Inner city youth league baseball and soccer coach (won some, lost some). Hobbies: Trying to beat his wife at "Scrabble," weight lifting, swimming, photography, sandlot baseball, soccer, football and basketball with his children. In Joe's words... I'm, for the most part, your average Midwesterner, I told the Duluth (MN) News. I jog in a pair of gray sweats. My favorite spots to eat are your basic diners. Whats more, I cut my own lawn. Oh, and Im running for president. I told the Lancaster (OH) Eagle Gazette that the reason I am running for president is that I am a concerned parent. That is, I don't want to leave a world of climate change, war, abortion, rural and inner city poverty, violent streets, nuclear proliferation, astronomical national debt, little social security, dwindling access to healthcare to our children. What sane parent would? Now, I didn't go to Harvard, Yale, or even Rutgers for that matter. I went to Bowling Green State University where I majored in journalism. I then worked for a couple intermediate-sized Ohio newspapers. I later became an addictions counselor. And in 1990, as a lead up to the presidential run, I took my journalism skills on the road to look for common sense solutions to the societal problems I outlined above. And in some tremendously extensive, cross-country research (that has continued during my years of campaigning), I've found those solutions.        Getting policies enacted... Amidst abject poverty on the Southside of Chicago, I learned how to end homelessness. In Atwood, Kansas (pop. 1,500), I learned how to balance the National Budget. In Grand Junction, Colorado, I learned how to get quality healthcare for all. In High Springs, Florida, I learned how to end global warming, for good. In Eunice, New Mexico, I learned how to unequivocally solve the immigration issue. And it was with this information, and much more, that I am running for president. No big money. No special interest backing. Just with tried solutions to make the country a much better place for our kids. While campaigning for president the past 12 years (and over 100,000 road miles), I've been telling people about these answers in hundreds of talks, more than 1,000 newspapers, a lot of radio, television and in a very up-close-and-personal way on the street corners of America. I told Channel 10 News in Albany, Georgia, that I can get a policy enacted long before I ever get to D.C., if somebody picks up on an idea and tries it in their town. And who knows how far out it will ripple out from there. So in a small way, I said during a talk at Toledo University, I am already president now! The students all smiled, politely. Be the change... I am also a firm believer that this won't be a better world for our children until more of us follow the saying: Be the change you want to see in the world. In this pursuit, my family and I try to live the messages we are conveying, at least the best we can. On a radio station in Indianapolis, Indiana, I said our platform asks some people to consider moving into the inner cities of America to live side-by-side with the poor. So our family moved to the heart of Cleveland, Ohio, where we volunteered at an outreach to the poor. I told the Tifton (GA) Gazette that our family has also set aside a Christ Room for the homeless at our place. And in D.C. we'd do the same thing in the West Wing. Just like I may well be looking for a youth baseball team to coach when I get there. I recently coached an inner city Rec. Center League team in Cleveland. On draft day I picked the kids who looked liked they'd be picked last, first. And apparently I did pretty well with this, because we lost almost all the games. Many of the kids on the team, sadly, didn't have a father at home. And many of these families don't have healthcare insurance either, just like two million other Ohioans. To help try to reverse this, my children and I have done volunteer work for the We Are The Uninsured Movement in Ohio. The reason our children are involved is because Liz and I want them learning as much about helping others -- as they do learning about math, science and English, I told The Mississippi Press. In fact, our education platform calls for a lot more local community involvement with students. I we also propose many more classes be focused on environmental awareness. To do our family's part for the environment, we created a "Kyoto Protocol Home Zone." (I even put a "Kyoto Protocol Home Zone" sign up in the front yard, to Liz's embarrassment.) We live in small places, use little air conditioning, cut the thermostat back in the winter, bicycle or walk almost everywhere within a five-mile radius and we recycle practically everything. And in D.C., we'd do all this as well. I mean, those big black limos alone can be such gas guzzlers anyway, right? Heal the family... "My concern for the environment, for the disadvantaged, for the unborn flows out of my spirituality. I'm Catholic, and trying to live the essence of the Gospel message is what I try to be about," I told columnist Mike Haynes of the Amarillo (TX) Globe News. And part of living the Gospel message is being centered in faith, having time for family, being concerned about others. I'm not the poster guy for all that, but I try. What's more, its Liz and my role to make sure our children have a wholesome and emotionally healthy upbringing. And I have some additional expertise in the latter area. Besides having been a journalist, I was also a counselor who worked with family system dynamics. And it is my contention that the current breakdown of the family in America (parents being physically or emotionally abusive, or absent, or addicted to alcohol, drugs, gambling, media entertainment, work) is creating a constellation of societal problems, I told ABC News in Monterey, California. Because of these dysfunctional family dynamics (and they seem to be everywhere these days), kids grow up depressed, angry and emotionally empty. As a result, incidence of domestic violence, street violence, addiction, mental and emotional problems spike in kind for the next generation, and the next... "So to heal the country, you have to heal the family. Theres just no way around it," I told the Bangor (ME) News. And we have a solid plan to do this, based on research weve done in Arthur, Illinois, Holbrook, Arizona, Carmel Valley, California, etc. Snow shoveling... Now when I'm not grappling with these pressing societal issues, my wife Liz is beating me at "Scrabble" (an issue in itself), or I'm playing racquetball with some buddies, or I'm trading baseball cards with our kids. That is, I'm doing all this in between doing chores for Liz. During a campaign talk in Wichita, Kansas, I was asked what the first thing I'd do as president was. I responded that "wed get to D.C. in January, so it would probably be snowing. If that, indeed, were the case -- the first thing Liz would have me do is: shovel the walk. " That will probably be a new one for the Secret Service. And so it goes... Joe

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