(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Thursday morning, 3 November 2016)
Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.
When I grow up I want to be a drug addict. Or: When I grow up I want to be a prostitute.
Or: I can’t wait to leave my home and family, my whole identity for a 3000 mile trek to
the United States. Or: I am happy I’m poor and that I am homeless.
Said no child ever.
I have been fortunate enough to spend time during 2 summers in Lasallian Social
Justice institutes on immigration and human trafficking. This was a small but powerful
glimpse into worlds that I had only read about. There is some serious truth to the saying
that you don’t know what it’s like until you walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. I
actually did this across the border into Mexico.
In our society we have little empathy for victims of painful circumstance. Victim
blaming is prevalent, criminalization a common practice. And I ask myself why?
Is reaching out to someone in need that difficult? Why do we feel so threatened by
another’s pain and suffering that putting them in prison seems like a viable option?
According to psychologists, victims of circumstance make us feel vulnerable. They
threaten our sense that the world is a safe place, that as long as we follow the rules
nothing bad will happen to us. Living our lives believing that misfortune can strike at
any moment is absolutely terrifying and so we look at victims of poverty, addiction and
human trafficking as somehow deserving of their fate. However, rationalizing the
suffering of others does nothing to change our world for the better. It reduces our
empathy. We dehumanize. And we blame.
Being able to put ourselves in another’s shoes may make us uncomfortable but certainly
the way to combat an unjust world is to open our hearts and have compassion.
Let us pray for all those deprived of their human needs, that they may find dignity.
For those who are forgotten or thrown away in our society, the sick, the poor, the aged.
For those who are lonely or afraid, teenagers on the street, war refugees, migrants.
God help us open our hearts and show us the value in all human life
St. John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.
Kristine Chapman–Social Studies Teacher