There are signs of hope in this new year 2003. Throughout the world there are signs that people want to move from poverty, violence and war towards solidarity, sharing and peace.

It is true that we still hear about President Bush calling for war. Even though it was initially in Afghanistan, Iraq became the primary target. Included in his so called “axis of evil” were North Korea and Iran. Now we hear that there is a newer axis of evil represented by Cuba, Venezuela and Brazil in Latin America. Therefore Mr. Bush is not only calling for war, but he has also designated the greatest military budget in the past 20 years.

Why does the federal government want to spend $344 billion on the Pentagon, when the federal government currently spends only $42 billion on education, $26 billion on affordable housing, $6 billion on Head Start, and only $1 billion on school construction? This could be a hopeless situation but hope is represented by tens of thousands in the US who are demonstrating against the war. The movement is calling to analyze how these figures represent a distorted picture of reality that it will affect us all.

Internationally there have also been anti-war demonstrations and there is a sign of hope that has the clearest value above all.

The new president of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has suspended the $700 million purchase of 12 supersonic fighter jets, choosing to devote more of this year’s budget to fighting poverty.

The funds will be used in hunger eradication projects, one of Mr. Lula da Silva’s top campaign promises. Maybe we are seeing the first signs of “swords for ploughshares”.

Locally, several groups in this area have called for a rally , and they are asking you to join your voice now to stop war and end racism! Tens of thousands of people will participate in mass protest activities in Washington DC and other communities on the Martin Luther King Jr. anniversary weekend.

In the midst of darkness, thousands of points of light are appearing everywhere! There is hope ! There will be peace if we all work in love for justice.