Homeland security has emblazoned in our minds, “If you see something, say something!”

“Across the nation, we’re all part of communities. In cities, on farms, and in the suburbs, we share everyday moments with our neighbors, colleagues, family, and friends. It’s easy to take for granted the routine moments in our every day—going to work or school, the grocery store or the gas station. But your every day is different than your neighbor’s—filled with the moments that make it uniquely yours. So if you see something you know shouldn’t be there— or someone’s behavior that doesn’t seem quite right— say something. Because only you know what’s supposed to be in your everyday. Informed, alert communities play a critical role in keeping our nation safe. “If You See Something, Say Something®” engages the public in protecting our homeland through awareness–building, partnerships, and other outreach.”

Alternative readings of this advice

Visitors to this site are directly engaged with vulnerable populations of the periphery of life. It occurred to me that this approach to engaging people in the challenges of homeland security should apply to what we see in these encounters.

Certainly, we see people with immediate needs of all kinds. The needs call for action whether it be flagging down a car for an accident victim, connecting people with various forms of emergency services, etc.

But there is yet another level of what we see. If we have our eyes open and our minds alert we ask must ask questions about so many of the situations we see. WHY? Why is the person, our brother or sister, falling between the cracks? What kind of systemic change is necessary to prevent these situations from occurring again and again?

Not everyone is alert enough to ask the question of root causes. We have been challenged by St. John Paul II to identify underlying causes and seek out long-term, effective solutions. Merely bandaging wounds, necessary as that may be, is not enough. It was not enough for Vincent and Louise. It was not enough for so many of those who walked in their footsteps over the last 400 years.

If we really “see” things and their roots we too must say something!

How can Vincentians “say something”?

We can say something by shining a light on what we see. We can, and should be, the “voice of the voiceless.” Especially if we speak of what we see among ourselves, we will learn that much is already being done by the various forms of Voice of the Poor committees.

As in so many matters the Society of St. Vincent de Paul offers us many avenues for advocacy. Visit their Voice of the Poor website. See also the tools they for making the voice of the voiceless heard in the corridors of power. Visit their excellent resources on Systemic Change.

For a broader perspective on what the many other branches of the Vincentian Family are doing visit the Vincentian Family Office site.

Will You Say Something If You See Something?


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