We’re all in this together!
It is a simple graphic! But as we have heard since our youth, “pictures are worth a thousand words.”
The graphic illustrates two common, but disastrous, attitudes. The first attitude is a myopic view of problems. I can’t see anything beyond what affects me. The second is like unto the first. I can’t see problems that do not appear to affect me now.
Both of these are manifestations of a tendency as old as civilization. “Me-ism”! The cartoon perfectly captures these two manifestations of the same problem. Being “high and dry” is not a sustainable solution.
Indeed it one of the problems today in coping with the pandemic of the coronavirus. Just because I don’t feel sick doesn’t mean that I am not a carrier of the virus and have no need to develop a greater habit of hand-washing. …The first commitment each of us must make is to undertake the shift from “me-focused” to “we-focused.”
Another way of looking at Systemic Change
As thought and prayed about this image I began to look at the issue of systemic change. Leaders of the Vincentian Family have asked us to rethink all our ministries. They are inviting us to see beyond what we are comfortable with and address root causes of problems.
Keep in mind that many of these problems are affecting us in ways we don’t recognize. Think about how building more and more prisons is, in fact, simply ignoring the underlying problems of unemployment, homelessness, addictions, and breeding grounds of crime.
It is in our best interest to step back and see how we are focusing on being “high and dry.” We need to address the underlying causes of what our brothers and sisters face as they are trying to bail out their end of the boat.
Supporting the Vincentian Family initiatives
So what can I do? The basic thing is to develop a mindset that Saint John Paul II reminded us is our Vincentian heritage….
The key to developing that mindset is to realize that Vincent was a master at expanding his view of his ministry. At first he only saw the needs of his parishioners facing spiritual and material poverty. He gradually came to realize that his individual efforts with parish missions was not enough. He needed to form clergy committed to addressing the spiritual needs.
At first he only saw the needs of a sick family on the outskirts of town. But then he began to see that if the charitable instincts of other parishioners were organized they could work better. The laity, especially women, could tend to the physical needs much more effectively.
- How often have I asked Vincent’s question – What more needs to be done?
- Do I look for opportunities to work collaboratively?