This Just Might be an Opportunity….
We have been through some pretty rough times lately. We have seen the worst in some people’s behavior and we have seen the best to the very best in others. We have seen folks come together to fight an invisible virus and exercise their constitutional right to peacefully protest racial injustice.
We have also seen some folks try to mislead, misappropriate the issues, and misinform. Countless millions have lost their opportunity at gainful employment that sustains them and their families. The virus’s impact in terms of racial and age disparity is astounding and the cause of great sadness and sorrow for thousands of families. In times like these we cling to the values we hold near and dear as the foundation of our democracy is challenged and our values and ideals are put to the test.
We are members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul that has as its mission to be “A network of friends, inspired by gospel values, growing in holiness and building a more just world through personal relationships with and service to people in need”.
We strive to help our neighbors in need to escape the pain of poverty, the frustration of despair, the fear of not being able to make it. Our friends are hurting and as this pandemic wears on many are losing hope that things will get better.
We have an opportunity to engage with others to make sure our neighbors don’t feel abandoned.
The event impacting our society today present us with an opportunity to work collaboratively with each other and our neighbors in need to make systemic changes that will renew a sense of hope and empowerment in our neighbors in need.
We can engage in a variety of activities that can bring needed change for those living in poverty. We have this opportunity because we know how to listen, visit with and walk with our neighbors in need. We can write letters to our elected officials demanding the change policies that are causing the fear and the pain of being in poverty. Policies that allow banks to fund payday lenders to charge exorbitant interest rates that lead to ensuring the neighbor in need cannot escape causing even more despair, and fear and exhaustion. This payday extortion keeps people down and out. It a form of discrimination. We can support programs like micro loans, free pharmacies, getting a head training programs and other creative and inventive programs that help our neighbors in need to get ahead, and even escape the trap of poverty. We can be a friend pointing them in the right direction, a friend who walks with our neighbor in need on the journey that leads them out of the trap of poverty. The friend who drives them to their appointments when public transportation is inefficient. We can be the friend who helps our neighbors in need dream of a different day and better life for themselves and their family. We need to make sure that St. Vincent de Paul Society is around 50, 100 years from now. That’s part of our responsibilities as a member. Things they are a changing, and our neighbors in need are hoping, expecting, needing us to be there for them and their families, not just now, but in the future as well. What we do now will impact the future, if we do nothing, that will impact the future also. Some say we can’t, cause we are all getting to old, or we are all ready to involved to take on more. Our Founder and our Patron, Bl. Frederic Ozanam and St. Vincent de Paul would not agree. Both of them will expect that we as members were inventive to infinity and that we invite others, especially the younger members of our communities, Catholic and non-Catholic to join us as we explore the opportunities and see the possibilities.
Roger Playwin, retired National CEO, Society of St. Vincent de Paul