With still no end in sight, the highly infectious, deadly, global novel coronavirus naturally continues to command much of our attention. All of us are vulnerable and most of us know it!
And so, the race is on to find a vaccine, as well as drugs to treat this plague. Vast amounts of money, time, effort, and intellectual capital are being invested— and rightfully so.
But what about all of the other suffering so much of humanity is enduring?
Not only now, but long before the coronavirus, countless fellow human beings have been racked with afflictions so terrible that words cannot do justice to their immense suffering—suffering largely unnoticed by most of the unaffected and more economically well-off nations and individuals.
Greed, lack of compassion, a weak commitment to Jesus’ gospel message, or as Pope Francis says “selfish indifference” are among the reasons why so many people have suffered so much, for so long, while so many of us pretty much look the other way.
‘Out of sight, out of mind’ is another reason why we aren’t doing all we can to bring love, social justice, and peace to our world. We need to take the blinders off and intently examine all of the misery. Let’s try to put ourselves in the shoes of our suffering brothers and sisters. Let’s use our creative imagination.
Just imagine how you would feel if you did not know if you would have any food to eat today, tomorrow, next week. Imagine if you and your family had no place to live tonight.
Imagine that your life and your children’s lives were threatened by drug gangs and that you and your children fled for your lives to the border of another country seeking asylum, only to be told that you and your children are not welcomed. Imagine that you are an unborn baby about to be brutally dismembered by abortion.
Imagine in a frantic effort of fleeing from persecution because of your faith you are tricked by a pimp and become trapped into forced prostitution or some other form of human trafficking.
Imagine that the water you drink is polluted, and disease ridden.
Imagine that where you live there is no school for your grandchildren and no medical care either.
Imagine that you are trapped in a war zone and that bombs—supplied by wealthy corporations of foreign nations—are exploding all around you.
Imagine that global warming has risen past the environmental ‘tipping points’ and that the catastrophic irreversible warnings of climate scientists have arrived.
Imagine that nuclear war has just begun.
Since all of this is overwhelming, it is very tempting to simply ignore all of it and retreat into our comfort zones. But we must resist this deadly temptation from the evil one.
Instead, we must heed St Ignatius of Loyola’s axiom: “Work as if everything depends on you. Pray as if everything depends on God.”
Pray, study, act. And make a difference! We can! We should! We must!
In the teaching of Pope St John Paul II, we need to nurture a sense of solidarity with each other—especially with the poor and vulnerable. Each one of us needs to commit our self to the common good; “that is to say, to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all”.
Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist.