March 2, 2022
As I contemplated what to write this week, a message about solidarity was delivered to my work inbox. It is one of the Catholic social teachings, and the focus of this week’s All Staff email. Although I am not Catholic, their social teachings fit right into my core values. They are the guiding principles of this organization, demonstrated in the vision, planning, policies, behaviors, and overall culture. This is the statement on solidarity from the Catholic Charities Ft. Worth website:
We are one human family whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, wherever they may be. Loving our neighbor has global dimensions in a shrinking world. At the core of the virtue of solidarity is the pursuit of justice and peace. Pope Paul VI taught that “if you want peace, work for justice.” The Gospel calls us to be peacemakers. Our love for all our sisters and brothers demands that we promote peace in a world surrounded by violence and conflict.
As the email message articulates, “we demonstrate solidarity in our commitment to treating all persons (our community, clients and employees) equitably with dignity and respect. At the heart of our work is the belief that everyone should have the opportunity to fully participate in society and live out their God-given gifts and talents, which is why the values of diversity, equity and inclusion are central to our agency’s identity.”
Solidarity is what I’ve been feeling recently in my daily conversations with clients and colleagues. It’s also what I’m feeling toward the Ukrainian people as they stand up and fight for their country, for democracy, for each other. I see the world rallying around them in a show of solidarity as well. It is a powerful reminder that we are all one human family and only together do we rise above oppression, greed, and fear.
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” —Nelson Mandela
Freedom is in the spotlight here and abroad, and we are challenged to widen our lens. In our country, I see this broad concept reduced to narrow views and irrational fears that separate us from each other. As a culture, we have become so self-centered, cuddled up in our own bunkers of fear and distrust, that we are blind to our common humanity. We mistakenly believe that we can fortify our freedom and safety by separating ourselves. However, thoughts become things and we experience more of what we hold in mind. Fear is a wicked trickster, fooling us into a false sense of security while creating a deeper darkness.
Solidarity can empower and strengthen us. It starts in our homes, our schools, our neighborhoods, our jobs. We have so much to learn from each other that will make us wiser, better humans. When we drop our judgments, defenses, and distrust, we experience true freedom. In connection with others, we discover our wholeness and humanity. In solidarity we find a higher, common, and solid ground.
Rise & Shine,
Elisa J. Juarez