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Part of the solution, or the problem?

by | Mar 2, 2015 | Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Vincentian Family

ozanam-koder“If we are not a part of the solution we are a part of the problem.”

So concludes a reflection by Denise Bondy, incoming spirituality committee chair of the Ontario SSVDP.

“Our Society of St. Vincent de Paul is a lay Catholic organization. We believe that we are CALLED to alleviate suffering and its causes. We give to anyone who needs in whatever manner we can. We help everyone regardless of race, creed, gender, opinion or age. We know that poverty doesn’t necessarily involve material goods because we are all poor in one way or another.

Our Society of St. Vincent de Paul is a lay Catholic organization. We believe that we are CALLED to alleviate suffering and its causes.

We give to anyone who needs in whatever manner we can. We help everyone regardless of race, creed, gender, opinion or age. We know that poverty doesn’t necessarily involve material goods because we are all poor in one way or another.

When people give to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul they are giving anonymously and with trust. They trust us with gifts of food, money, goods, and their prayers. They trust that we will give their gifts to people they will never personally see but who are in need in our local communities. We are so thankful for the trust that is given to us. That trust is our highest priority.

If we are not a part of the solution we are a part of the problem.”

May God bless us all,

Denise

Read the full reflection which puts it in a wider ecumenical perspective… and also points us in the direction of working together in this Year of Vincentian Family Collaboration as called for by the leaders of the various groups of the Vincentian Family.

“If you are not a part of the solution you are a part of the problem.”

This phrase has been attributed to a number of people… speech makers, advertising writers, social activists and more. It applies in so many areas and it is, I believe, a truth of our time, especially as it applies to poverty.

If we don’t do something to help others, we hurt them.

We do this by our neglect, by not wanting to see that there are people who are doing without, right here in our local communities. There are people who can’t afford the groceries that their children need to be healthy and there are people who are going hungry because they don’t have food in their cupboards or because they don’t even have a house to live in, so of course they don’t have cupboards to put good food in.

If we don’t do something to help others we hurt them.

We do this by lumping groups of people together and labelling them as not good people. “Those people”… The poor, the unemployed, the bosses, the workers, the foreigners, people who don’t look like me or who don’t believe what I believe… “Those people” as a group are not good people so they don’t deserve my help. Does that make sense? I am a part of a group that is different. I am a Roman Catholic, a senior citizen, a woman, a retired union activist. I can be put into any of these groups and other groups too. Maybe you don’t particularly like one of the groups I belong to. There are people who think senior citizens are a drain on the economy. Others think that unions are wrong. Some don’t like Catholics or outspoken women. But look at me, personally. If I am suffering because I don’t have enough to eat, a place to live, medical care, or friends, does my membership in any category of human association mean that I deserve to starve, to be homeless, to die of a treatable disease and to do all this alone?

If we don’t help people, we are hurting them.

By not doing whatever we can for those who need our help (and every human being deserves my help) we are hurting those people. We hurt them by allowing their suffering to continue when we can do something to help.

I don’t have to be a follower of any one religion to believe that care for the poor is important or necessary. All faith-filled people care for those in need.

Jesus said, “The poor you will always have with you and you can help them any time you want.” Many good people use this as the excuse NOT to do too much for the poor. They rationalize that Jesus said poor people will always be here, so poverty must be God’s plan. It’s a way for us to earn points with God. Whenever we feel like we want to help, we can, but there’s no point in getting all crazy about eliminating poverty issues.

Maybe I can’t eliminate poverty, sickness, loneliness, disease. But surely I can stop turning a blind eye to these things. If I don’t do even a small act of kindness I am allowing suffering to continue. The same Jesus who said the poor will always be with us said that we will be judged by the way we have treated others, “As much as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me.”

Ghandi said, “You can judge a society by how they treat their weakest members.”

In Judaism, giving to the poor is an obligation, a duty that cannot be forsaken, even by those who are themselves in need. So even if I am poor I have an obligation to give.

The Koran says, “To be charitable in public is good, but to give alms to the poor in private is better and will atone for your sins. Allah has knowledge of all your actions.”

The Bible says, “Take care not to perform righteous deeds so that people may see them… When you give alms do not let your right hand know what your left hand is doing… And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”

If we are not a part of the solution we are a part of the problem.

Our Society of St. Vincent de Paul is a lay Catholic organization. We believe that we are CALLED to alleviate suffering and its causes. We give to anyone who needs in whatever manner we can. We help everyone regardless of race, creed, gender, opinion or age. We know that poverty doesn’t necessarily involve material goods because we are all poor in one way or another.

When people give to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul they are giving anonymously and with trust. They trust us with gifts of food, money, goods, and their prayers. They trust that we will give their gifts to people they will never personally see but who are in need in our local communities. We are so thankful for the trust that is given to us. That trust is our highest priority.

If we are not a part of the solution we are a part of the problem.

May God bless us all,

Denise

 

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