Solidarity: Let’s Make Humanity Great Again!

Fr. Tom Hagan, OSFS, who has served as a missionary in Haiti for more than 20 years, reports some dire facts about the country he now calls home: Unemployment soars at 80 percent, and deforestation at 98 percent. Equally painful facts abound about infant mortality, disease, and hunger. Yet, these two statistics about labor and the environment chill us in the first world, for we wrestle with these issues almost daily.

Hands Together mission, which Fr. Tom founded in 1986 and still leads, has initiated many programs across several contexts: feeding programs, health clinics, reforestation efforts, clean water wells, and especially education. Hands Together’s education system runs 23 schools and teaches more than 8,000 students daily. It is the only free school system in the country, and students are fed throughout the school day.

Of course, we in the United States need to worry about our nation’s unemployment and the environment that is contained within our borders. Yet, our Catholic social teaching impels us to stretch our interests to hold concern, maybe even anxiety, about all of our brothers and sisters, wherever they live. This Gospel value, very simply, is solidarity.

In a recent article in America magazine, San Diego’s Bishop Robert McElroy quoted a lament from Pope Benedict XVI: “As society becomes ever more globalized, it makes us neighbors but does not make us brothers.” The bishop advanced the pope’s point with a most basic truth: “God is the father of the entire human family.” The church leader added: “Creation is a gift to every man and woman, stewardship of our planet belongs by right to all, and war is a massive failure of the entire human family.”

Although Haiti is just about two hours away from the United States, it must not be distant from our hearts. The plight of no country can be far from us, for we are all brothers and sisters created by the same God whom we call Father.

As we continue to strengthen our country, our efforts can never be at the expense of or the exclusion to care for those in need. Bishop McElroy’s article, in the print edition, was entitled “The Soul of Our Nation,” and if we were to make America greater with no regard for others, might we lose our soul in the process? Or, as Jesus said: “What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” (Mark 8:36)

Our commitment to solidarity can serve as a moral antidote to the social sin of unbridled nationalism, which history has shown to be disastrous, even evil. Emboldened with the solidarity of the Gospel, let’s make humanity great again!