Dreaming is not escaping reality. “It is to undermine obvious facts to break their hold on people, to abandon deliberately the paths of obedience, to project oneself into a reality that we daringly think is different” (Myriam Tonus, “Dangereuse l’utopie?” in La Libre Belgique, November 10, 2002 ).
Vincentians dream of a different world. Inserted in our DNA are aspirations that are closest to the Gospel, the utopian ideals of equality and justice that many, unfortunately, seem to have already abandoned. Today, for example, the world is witnessing with horror the way European politicians deal with the humanitarian crisis of refugees from Syria and other areas of conflict. Meanwhile we, the rest of the population, impassively stand witness to the continuous trickle of deaths—by the hundreds, by the thousands—of human beings who risk their lives in a reckless journey through dangerous routes. Do we raise our voices against this, and similar, obvious situations of degradation and inhuman treatment? No doubt, there are things we do. The Vincentian Family has representation in the UN to raise its voice against the injustices that happen all over the world every day. Unfortunately, this is just one of the many examples that one can give. It’s enough to look at the pages of the newspaper or watch the news on TV—and let us not even talk about the countless injustices and catastrophes that do not make the news—to realize that there are many fronts where we have to have presence, by words and by works, so we may be agents of change.
What about locally? It is true, we are present in thousands of situations of need, bringing about a systemic change that will help the impoverished take charge of their history and overcome injustices. Even so, we must consider whether we can still do more, and if we can do it collaboratively, supporting global initiatives as a Family, not only as individual Vincentians or branches.
Every follower of St. Vincent de Paul has the right and duty to dream of a different world. What we Christians pray every day in the Our Father is, “Thy kingdom come,” which is to ask the Father to fulfill, here and now, the promise of a world where the only King will be Jesus Christ, and where we will all be brothers and sisters, servants of one another. The dream of a Christian utopia calls us to take action to make this a reality. It is true that the Kingdom will come, no matter what, that it is already being built in our world. We who follow the great believers, Vincent, Louise, Frédéric…, want to be part of this work, essential to our way of faith.
Let us do it together: we are many, and there is strength in numbers and in unity. Dreaming together will turn a dream into reality. Where a Vincentian feels overcome by reality, the Vincentian Family, together, united and working together, can transform reality.
For us, it is not acceptable to say, perhaps to indicate defeat, “What can I do?” A better question would be, “How can we do this or that?” “How?” since we have in our hands the potential to realize our dreams, if we get down to work. “We do,” because we will do it together, and it is neither an option nor a possibility, but rather, a certainty that we have before us. In .famvin we have many examples of followers of Vincent that have gone down to work and are making a difference.
Let us collaborate. Let us dream. Together let us make a better world. All this is not an option: it is our obligation as followers of the great saint of Charity.
For reflection and dialogue:
- Do we dream of a different world, or perhaps just live from day to day “putting out fires?”
- In what way is our Vincentian presence transforming our surroundings?
- Are we agents of change?
- What does “Charity” mean for a Vincentian? Is it a synonym for “alms,” or do we work for genuine transformation of our world by Love?
- How much do we believe that Vincentian Collaboration can help us maximize our effectiveness and meet the challenges we face as Vincentians?
- About prophetic denunciation, is it part of our “profile as evangelizers?” Do we use the media and social networks to denounce injustice?
- Do we dare to be nonconformists, even disobedient, before the status quo? Are we willing to risk, to fall down, to be wrong, on behalf of the poor?