Unit 2 Destination Discussion - Harvest of Empire

Advance Preparation

Members of the group should view the film Harvest of Empire in its entirety.

Discussion:Before you begin the discussion, take a moment to close your eyes and reflect back on the film you just watched.

  • What are some of the moments that stand out to you the most when you do so—which scenes have really stayed with you?
  • What was it that especially struck you about these scenes? What feelings did they bring up for you?

In this unit of the study guide, we have been reflecting on our identities as US citizens and as people of faith, and on how these identities may help or hinder us in various ways as we struggle to become more effective allies to people confronting oppression.

Speaking as a US citizen, what feelings did this film bring up for you? In particular, what feelings came up for you as you thought about the larger story this film has to tell about the impact of U.S. policies in Latin America?

  • Was most of this history familiar to you, or unfamiliar?
  • What most surprised you about this history? What is one thing you learned from this film that you did not know before?

Unitarian Universalists have historically been a privileged subset of the American public, economically and racially; some of us may have benefited materially from unjust U.S. policies abroad or otherwise been complicit in those policies—perhaps without realizing it. On the other hand, Unitarian Universalists and members of many other religious communities also have much to be proud of in the history of our relationship to Central America.

As we will discuss in more detail further on in the curriculum, the UU Service Committee played a significant moral role in Central America in the 1980s by bearing witness to the human rights violations that were taking place in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua at the time and were being abetted by the U.S. government. This was true as well for the American Friends Service Committee (Quakers) and for some other faith communities even when their national bodies were not willing to take a stand. For instance, Southside Presbyterian and its pastors (past and present) in Tucson, AZ, have played critical leadership roles both in the 1980s Sanctuary Movement and today.

The UU General Assembly passed multiple resolutions in the 1980s condemning U.S. policies in Central America that were funding paramilitaries and other militia groups with abhorrent human rights records. You can read two of these brief resolutions here and here: (http://www.uua.org/statements/us-non-intervention-nicaragua) (http://www.uua.org/statements/support-veterans-peace-convoy-and-justice-people-nicaragua)

  • If you are UU, what are some of the feelings that come up for you as you contemplate this history?
  • If you are a member of a different faith, what do you know about your denomination’s involvement for Central American human rights in the 1980s?
  • What are some of the ways in which your life story (as a North American and as a religious liberal) intersects with the history of U.S. policies in Latin America?
  • Suppose for a minute that you had to write an autobiography called “Central America and Me.” What would be in it?
Print Friendly, PDF & Email