"My first human act is the recognition of how much I owe everyone else." – Thomas Merton
Reading Thomas Merton, the monk, over President’s Day weekend helped me to reflect more fully on how we are connected.
As a self-absorbed young man Merton was quite naturally trying to find his place in the scheme of things. As he matured his understanding grew to see the connections of his life choices and decisions with other people both locally and globally. As a monk in solitude he discovered the world; in solitude he discovered others; in solitude he discovered compassion.
One of the challenges of our time is how to make community. True, communication has never been more all-pervasive. Yet we see profound gaps in comprehension of the lives of one another–the profound gap widening between rich and poor and between the powerful and powerless. We see the needs of the elders and of children, of those chronically ill and with life-threatening disease. We see the legitimate concerns about collective bargaining in labor unions but do not attend sufficiently to the corporate evils that brought us to this place. We castigate immigrants yet forget our own past, and turn a deaf ear to their needs and the gifts in labor and youth they give us.
Across the country teachers are concerned about children who come hungry to school and cannot learn. Kwashiorkor, a third world disease of hunger, has been identified among some poor families in California! We see the middle class struggling for jobs and trying to avoid home foreclosures, yet the wealthy must have their tax cuts!
Let us pray for our country and for ourselves. Let us pray to do justice. Let us pray to see the connection between ourselves and our struggling brothers and sisters.