Thanks that Pope Francis continues to give voice and draw attention to the unacceptable reality of inequality in the world – most recently in an address prepared for the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Catholic Charities deals with this reality each day – neighbors unfed and under-fed; families dangerously housed or without housing; children neglected and inadequately educated; immigrants un-welcomed and refugees in fear and persecuted. Providing Help, Creating Hope, Catholic Charities’ tagline, is also our mission laced with more than a tinge of obsession. And so Catholic Charities provides help – day in and day out to non-Catholics and Catholics alike. And we try to create hope for those we help. For many, a different future will require long and hard work. Yet, it is essential to who we are and what we do. Catholic Charities’ work is grounded in our core belief that each person – no matter how wounded and struggling – is made in the image of God.
I admit I was stunned by the Huffington Post headline related to the World Economic Forum that the “Richest 85 Wealthier than Half the World poorest” (est. 3.5 Billion). I know headlines and statistics can be misleading, but this one – even if off by a lot – still points out an incredible amount of inequality in the world.
Let me offer my two cents on this word, “inequality,” that has captured media buzz – and the attention of the Pope, Mayors, and protesters and just about everybody. Here’s my “non-sound bite” translation of the word. “There is such an unequal distribution of income and wealth that so many people don’t have even the basics that each human being has a right to, while some people have much more than they need.” This comes with the correct therefore: “We need to do something about it!”
Let me move into a “spin area.” Too many in the media and others seem to want to make this into “class warfare.” The media are given ample fodder by political campaigns. It may be good politics. It may be good media. But it’s bad public policy and bad for the common good.
To deal with this unacceptable inequality, we need “as many hands on board as possible” and especially “hands” that share different perspectives. We need business, unions, charities, government, religion, immigrants, native born, rich, poor and the still large middle class, the right and the left. In our own country and throughout the world this is a human problem. No person or group can shun the responsibility to be part of the solution. I am realistic enough to know that some will choose not to cooperate or claim to participate while really being obstructionist. That’s not good or ideal. But I do believe we can put together – with God’s providence – a broad enough movement to deal with this inequality so that more and more of our sisters and brothers at home and throughout the world have the basic necessities. Catholic Charities has been working at this for almost a century. Count me in to be part of this renewed movement. Enough for now, more to come…