[Patti Giggans] studied martial arts in New York, Paris and Vietnam and was among the first American women to achieve a black belt in karate. Before coming to the group, she ran a self-defense school for women. Like many practitioners of Asian martial arts, she experiences the discipline as a form of "moving meditation." That focused mindfulness, along with the Jewish notion of tikkun olam -- repairing a broken world -- form the spiritual foundation of Giggans' work. "We're a faith-based organization," she said. "Staff and volunteers step out of their comfort zones to reach clients of different races, ethnicities and religions."
Different faiths focus on different aspects of the problem, but few take a holistic approach. Those who do are seldom thanked for it. More than 20 years ago, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin proposed a "consistent ethic of life" and was roundly criticized by many of his coreligionists. Bernardin, who headed the Chicago Archdiocese until his death in 1996, believed that the Catholic moral vision safeguards the sanctity of life from "womb to tomb." In his view, opposition to abortion, the arms race, euthanasia and the death penalty, along with support for human rights and programs for the poor, were all of a piece.