Quotes and Readings

Voices of Farmworkers

“We were all shaking because it was so hot, almost dehydrated. You know what I did? I left them…. It was less than an hour before finishing, and I thought for $6 I am not going to die here. I’m leaving. In the field, there were no shade trees. It is just a ditch full of weeds, but that’s where I stayed, and it didn’t matter if there were snakes or thorns. It didn’t matter…. All I wanted was shade.”

“I believe it is better to speak up than to stay with the same conditions and do nothing – either way I might lose my job. [But] if I speak up at least I do something for my co-workers.”

“The other day that we were at Mass, I couldn’t feel my face because it was cracked and that comes from the fertilizers. The fertilizer is alive. It is alive. It is alive in the soil! You pick it up and you start with this rash. Then it starts penetrating….”

Worker in Mexico: “You know, the Americans don’t really like us. They only want us to go there to work, like animals. The Mexicans go there to suffer doing hard work, while the Americans stay out of the fields. In the time I worked in the United States, I never saw an American in the fields. You never see them out picking. They hire Mexican supervisors to work their own countrymen to death. They’re real tyrants. You can’t even stop because they’re always yelling ‘Faster, faster. You’re getting paid to work, not to stand around.'”

“We are only shoulders here, wanted because we do the work no one else wants to do.”

Dorothy Day

Young people say, ‘What good can one person do? What is the sense of our small effort?’ They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time; we can be responsible only for the one action of the present moment. but we can beg for an increase of love in our hearts that will vitalize and transform all our individual actions, and know that God will take them and multiply them, as Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes.

The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us? When we begin to take the lowest place, to wash the feet of others, to love our brothers [and sisters] with that burning love, that passion, which led to the Cross, then we can truly say, ‘Now I have begun.’ — Loaves and Fishes, Harper & Row, 1963

Mary Ann Williams

quoted often by Nelson Mandela
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate; our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you NOT to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Leone Jose Bicchieri

farmworker organizer
One of these lessons I have learned is that there exists a chunk of responsibility to fight for justice this is mine alone, and I can either accept that responsibility or run from it. It is no one else’s by my own.

Dolores Huerta

Be angry about injustice! Use your skills to make the world a better place. – Duke University, 1983

Gustavo Gutierrez

To not take sides is to side with those in power.

Rev. Chris Hartmire

founding director, NFWM
Gandhi, King, Chavez, Mother Teresa, the nameless saints–they are all irritants, challenging the careful, comfortable ways we have organized our lives. Yet we love them. Why do we love them? It is only partly because of who they are. They give flesh to what they believe and thereby awaken a spirit deep within us. By their words and deeds they call forth that part of us that yearns to give life, to love mercy and to do justice. By living their lives the way they do they reach for what is deepest and best in each of us–pulling, organizing, putting our love for justice to work in practical ways that serve the poor. We respect and love ourselves more as we put into practice what we believe in our hearts; and we love, with a universal love, those persons who led us on that better way…

Gerald and Patricia Miche

…it is the prophetic task to announce that the world was created not to be destroyed, but to be fulfilled; not to stand still, but to grow toward wholeness. – Toward a Human World Order

Miguel de Unamuno

Sow the living plant of yourselves in the furrows of life.

John Cardinal O’Connor

The most important ‘issue” in religious and public life is the human person. We must once again recognize that we cannot meet any other challenge of our day until we come to believe in the worth, dignity, and sacredness of every human person. Unless we do so, we will ultimately destroy ourselves with contempt. It is the sacred human person, made in the image and likeness of almighty God, who deserves primary consideration in all issues addressed Whether sociological, scientific, economic, political or otherwise.

United Methodist Church

The Church in mission is a sign of God’s presence in the world. By the authority of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, the church joins God’s mission to reclaim, restore, and redeem the life of all creation to its God intended design; confessing by word and deed the redeeming activity of God in Christ among the whole human family.

Pope Paul VI

Let all the people examine themselves, to see what they have done up to now, and what they ought to do. It is not enough to recall principles, state intentions, point to crying injustice and utter prophetic denunciations; these words will lack real weight unless they are accompanied for each individual by a livelier awareness of personal responsibility and by effective action. It is too easy to throw back on others responsibility for injustices, if at the same time one does not realize how each one shares in it personally.

Pat Hoffman

Most middle class church people will squirm out of taking responsibility for justice work if they have no direct stake in it. If not too much is asked, it’s all right. But when we contemplate deeper involvement we quickly think about possibly offending people we regularly see at church, at home, at work, or about losing our job, going to jail, getting embroiled in a long fight and not being able to get loose. Middle class people need poor people pulling them into action on behalf of justice and wholeness. Works of love and justice renew our always disintegrating integrity. People who were blessed and renewed in their work with the farm workers are an important reminder of the rewards of the Kingdom. These experiences enhance our understanding of the Beatitudes. – Ministry of the Dispossessed, Ventura, CA

William James

Need and struggle are what excite and inspire us; our hour of triumph is what brings the void. Not the Jews of the captivity, but those of the days of Solomon’s glory are those from whom the pessimistic utterances in our Bible come. It is only by risking our persons from one hour to another that we live at all. And often enough our faith beforehand in an uncertified result is the only thing that makes the result come true. – The Will to Believe, 1897

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