We Really Are All in This Together

‘Solidarity is an eminently Christian virtue. It practices the sharing of spiritual goods even more than material ones.’ (CCC 1948)

Ukrainian children are given food in the Polish city of Przemysl, Poland, after fleeing Ukraine after the Russian invasion.
Ukrainian children are given food in the Polish city of Przemysl, Poland, after fleeing Ukraine after the Russian invasion. (photo: Kutsenko Volodymyr / Shutterstock)

At the end of Mass one day during my big move from the East Coast back to the Midwest, a moment of grace inspired me to smile and reflect, “I am in love with the human person!” I looked at a recent picture of myself with a cousin’s child, whom I barely know, out here in the barren fields of Indiana and reflected on how much I love him and the many people scattered throughout my life across the globe. Does it matter how well we know each other but rather how dear we are to each other in the eyes of God our Father?

The grace from that morning’s Mass reminded me: Just love the human person, if only in prayer. Even if you don’t necessarily see everything eye-to-eye, end on good terms and strive to live in peace no matter the difficulty of the moment. To have a heart of love, I also perceive the necessity of loving those outside of my circle of friends and family, outside of my neighborhood or even my country.

The issue of an increased demand for many to migrate to the United States has understandably yielded different views on problem resolution but also unjust disdain for those feeling compelled to leave their country. I may differ with a family’s decision and with my government’s response or not in assisting them. But how can hatred of people made in the image of God ever be condoned?

Moreover, there seems to be a growing misunderstanding that refugees are not immigrants. Refugees are leaving their country “because something bad has happened,” as I recently heard a Ukrainian refugee explain. Political asylum is legal, as authorized by the U.S. State Department, and was even sanctioned during the years of President Ronald Reagan. It takes real motivation to apply for and receive asylum while living abroad under a military dictatorship, such as Burma or Afghanistan. Those who have received the right to enter the United States under such circumstances are our heroes. In determination and strength they courageously come to the U.S., many with children born in refugee camps.

“Tell people about the plight of refugees and migrants. Explain their circumstances to others,” said my confessor to me several years ago. What I think he was trying to say was not to let anyone’s misunderstanding disgust me on either end of an argument. Not only should I try to understand where others are coming from, but also in some situations I might try to make their problems understood so that all can live in peace. When I was the outsider in a new state living in temporary housing, I gained a better appreciation for just how complicated it is to have everything be new. Can I judge what makes one change countries when I am asked why I moved back to the state of my birth?

In a similar vein, back in Maryland, I am so pleased to watch from afar Little Portion Farm develop on the grounds of the Franciscan friary, the Shrine of St. Anthony, in Ellicott City, Maryland. Little Portion Farm is an initiative to provide fresh vegetables grown on the friary grounds to the poor of Baltimore, a big city with a very different culture from the one in suburban Maryland where the shrine is located. Growing fresh vegetables for Baltimore’s inner-city poor is not a solution to all of the city’s problems but more than a means to nourish just a few homeless. It is an example of a courageous few to try to understand what others don’t have, and what they need, even if it’s the green lettuce many of us take for granted.

We really are all in this together. And our Father and our Blessed Mother look down and smile at their children trying to work it out!