More than a year after the beginning of painful experience of the Covid-19 Pandemic and with the certainty of being at the beginning of the end and with vaccination underway, the world begins to draw conclusions and imagine what the future might be like.
The most critical and forceful conclusions that I have heard were spoken last October by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, who stated:
The divided world has not lived up to the challenge of fighting the coronavirus pandemic… The COVID-19 pandemic is a test that, until now, the international community has not overcome. Much more could have been done if countries had worked together to combat the disease. It is one of enormous frustration.
Harsh words from the head of an organization in charge of coordinating the collaborative efforts among nations in the construction of world peace and well-being.
Humanity, until now, has not passed the test. The pandemic was a golden opportunity to show the unity and collaboration of humankind, to look for strategies, to help each others’ nations, to confront together the health crisis and the other crises that have come with it.
Except for some exceptional beautiful displays of generosity, in general, the countries were closed, many companies sought to take advantage of the crisis and, in the end, each one had to respond as best they could. Humanity failed the test of solidarity and brotherhood that was presented to it … failed until now.
For his part, Pope Francis has also been presenting his own evaluation of the ravages of the pandemic: Tragedies like this one “have exposed our vulnerability and uncovered those false and superfluous certainties around which we constructed our daily schedules, our projects, our habits and priorities… Amid this storm, the façade of those stereotypes with which we camouflaged our egos, always worrying about appearances, has fallen away” (Fratelli Tutti 32).
But there is a great lesson: “The pain, uncertainty and fear, and the realization of our own limitations, brought on by the pandemic have only made it all the more urgent that we rethink our styles of life, our relationships, the organization of our societies and, above all, the meaning of our existence.” (33).
The Pope has rightly begun to “rethink” all of this and, in his message for the World Day for Peace on January 1 of this year, he presented a proposal:
The year 2020 was marked by the massive Covid-19 health crisis, which became a global phenomenon cutting across boundaries, aggravating deeply interrelated crises like those of the climate, food, the economy and migration, and causing great suffering and hardship… Sad to say, alongside all these testimonies of love and solidarity, we have also seen a surge in various forms of nationalism, racism and xenophobia, and wars and conflicts that bring only death and destruction in their wake.
These and other events that marked humanity’s path this past year have taught us how important it is to care for one another and for creation in our efforts to build a more fraternal society. That is why I have chosen as the title of this year’s Message, A Culture of Care as a Path to Peace. A culture of care as a way to combat the culture of indifference, waste and confrontation so prevalent in our time.
At a time like this, when the barque of humanity, tossed by the storm of the current crisis, struggles to advance towards a calmer and more serene horizon, the “rudder” of human dignity and the “compass” of fundamental social principles can enable us together to steer a sure course. As Christians, we should always look to Our Lady, Star of the Sea and Mother of Hope. May we work together to advance towards a new horizon of love and peace, of fraternity and solidarity, of mutual support and acceptance. May we never yield to the temptation to disregard others, especially those in greatest need, and to look the other way; instead, may we strive daily, in concrete and practical ways, “to form a community composed of brothers and sisters who accept and care for one another”.
The “culture of care” is like a compass that can guide us through this time when humankind engages in a process of search and recovery. Let us be concerned about one another so that no one remains on the sidelines, forgotten, excluded.
If only this immense sorrow may not prove useless, but enable us to take a step forward towards a new style of life. If only we might rediscover once for all that we need one another, and that in this way our human family can experience a rebirth, with all its faces, all its hands and all its voices (35).
“May humankind be born anew”, is the Pope’s desire and the desire of all people. Let us cooperate in this process of rebirth … we have our compass: take care of one another.
Fr. Silviano Calderón Soltero, cm
Source: Evangelio y Vida, número de marzo y abril de 2021.