In Cincinnati, a Discussion on How ‘Everything is Connected’
Sr. Caroljean Willi
October 16, 2020
While offering a warm welcome to the Queen of the West at Network’s Oct. 16 town hall meeting in Cincinnati, participants also learned of the high poverty rate that exists in the city.
The opening prayer began with a quote from Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai that reminded us that we are called to be people of hope — even, and perhaps more so, in the midst of the turmoil that surrounds us.
Participants reflected on how the coronavirus has given us an opportunity to look at ourselves and remember that we all belong to each other. Pope Francis’ injunction that we have to move to the margins came up repeatedly during the discussions.
Racism and the need to confront it was a recurring theme. There was unanimity in agreeing that racism and inequality have to be dealt with at the systemic level, that it is a structural problem affecting our society negatively in our treatment of people considered “minorities.” Even the term “minorities” itself was called into question if we truly believe we are equally loved as children of God. This belief in the dignity of all people forces us to look at how all people in society are treated and be willing to speak up and act with clarity and integrity, to call out the injustices in our own backyards, but also to offer our time and efforts to find solutions.
One of the greatest challenges expressed was that of getting people to listen to what we are saying about the sacredness of all of life, referring not only to people, but to all of creation and the responsibility we have to care for it. Suggestions offered included the need to try to find at least one kernel of common ground with the person with whom you disagree, and also being sensitive to your audience and willing to enter into dialogue.
Whether discussing racism, immigration, climate change or the pandemic, Pope Francis’ words that “everything is connected” were a constant reminder that who we elect matters.
[Caroljean Willie is a Sister of Charity of Cincinnati who has a Ph.D. in multicultural education. She has extensive experience working cross-culturally throughout the United States, the Caribbean and Latin America.]