In the current calendar, we Catholics begin the year by turning toward Mary, as the Mother of God, the one through whom God was made visible to the world. We know that Mary looks upon every human life from the moment he or she is conceived as her child and so we also celebrate that desire that all her children live in peace. Today we set aside politics, nationality, all every other human construct by which we divide ourselves into "us" and "them."
For us in the US, we also look back to January 1, 1863 and the Emancipation Proclamation, a turning point in one of the most shameful practices in the life of our nation, slavery, the buying and selling of human beings. It would be another two years before the constitution was rectified, and the 13th amendment banned slavery or involuntary servitude. We forget that the Declaration of Independence and 1776 was for whites only. It would be almost a century before the "all men are created equal" would truly mean all.
As 2013 opens let us pray to Mary our mother, for all the ways and places in our world where the true dignity of all her children is still not respected, that this year may move our world closer to true freedom and peace.