A reflection by Betsy Wiest,
SSJ Agregee and Social Justice Coordinator
We have all been affected by recent events in our world:
the COVID-19 pandemic and the protests, marches, and vigils following the death of George Floyd. These events have left us breathless, angry, confused, and seeking direction. The Sisters of St. Joseph of Northwestern Pennsylvania released a statement calling for unity and an end to the violence that has surrounded racism.
Through it all, public officials and leaders in our faith communities have spoken out. We have discussed this with our families, friends, and neighbors. We see COVID-19 and racism covered each day in the local and national news media. We are living in a time of great difficulty, but we are also living in a time with the potential for great growth and a better understanding of each other. Maybe we will finally listen to each other. As painful as it may be, I see us beginning to “walk with” in this listening. Maybe this painful experience will help us to really become one. Maybe it’s time in our history to work together, accept one another, and love one another as Jesus taught us, so we can prevent this deep-rooted prejudice from rearing its ugly head again.
I believe we are at a tipping point. We have mourned many deaths resulting from angry white people who have taken the lives of black people and gotten away with it. COVID-19 has shown us that our future is dependent on how we treat one another, and how we care for our dear neighbor without distinction. It is time for us to listen to those in pain so we can understand how they are feeling and how we, as a society, need to acknowledge how we may unknowingly hurt others.
The Assumptions of White Privilege and What We Can Do About It is an excellent article by Fr. Bryan Massingale, a well-known Black theologian who writes and speaks about racism. His article will help us to better understand ourselves and others so we can work together for the common good. (Also available at ncronline.com)
We recently celebrated Pentecost. As you reflect on racism, take a few breaths and as you slowly inhale, pray, “Come Holy Spirit.” As you slowly exhale, be mindful of the power of the Holy Spirit to renew the face of the earth.
Today, I continue to hold you, our country, and our world in my prayers. During this uncomfortable time, I wish you safety and continued good health as we continue to “walk with” our dear neighbor.