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Pandemics  not recognized as pandemics

(See below for an audio version of this reflection.)

I was startled to read the catalog of unrecognized but real pandemics identified by Renato de Lima, International President of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. He reflected on the number of pandemics that seem to be even more dangerous than COVID 19. If we accept the definition of pandemic as a condition prevalent over a whole country or the world then the following are some of the other pandemics today.

  • Each year there are six million abortions (pandemic of death).
  • Every day some 820 million people do not receive adequate food (pandemic of hunger).
  • Of the eight billion inhabitants of this planet earth, some seven billion do not know Christ (spiritual pandemic).
  • The number of people unemployed worldwide is two hundred fifty million (unemployment pandemic).
  • Young people are involved in various addictions (drug pandemic).
  • One million people commit suicide every year (pandemic of hopelessness).
  • There are more than seventy million refugees worldwide (pandemic of vulnerability).
  • There are countries where basic sanitation reaches only ten percent of the households (health pandemic).
  • The media transmits false news and disinformation (media pandemic).
  • Millions of people live alone, with no family and with no hope (pandemic of loneliness).

The list of other pandemics could gone on and on!

We can not do it alone … But Vincent can teach us how to collaborate

Daunting indeed! We can not do it alone! We need to gather together as a collaborative movement.

We need to develop a culture of collaboration across and within the various branches of the Vincentian Family.

Even more, we need to learn how to work with so many outside the Vincentian Family who share our concerns.

Before we can act collaboratively we may have to learn to think differently.

For years I have light-heartedly referred to a working definition of collaboration in the Vincentian Family . “Let’s you and me collaborate in MY project.” Most times I am met with a knowing nod.

Vincent can teach us much about a “culture of collaboration”

“Forgotten truths” we can learn from St. Vincent

Vincent taught us much about a “culture of collaboration”.

  • The truth is that he was convinced that others shared his vision and would be generous in their response to needs. “The poor suffer less from a lack of generosity than from a lack of organization.”
  • The truth is that he was humble enough to ask others to help. He was not wedded to any messianic delusions. He did not fall prey to a “Lone Ranger” tendency of thinking that he had to do it on his own.
  • The truth is that he was adept at involving others in what he saw needed to be done. He found his strength in accepting his limitations.
  • The truth is that so often he had the courage and the skill to lead others to walk together where few had walked before.
  • The truth is that he courageously spoke the truth to power.

Towards building a culture of collaboration

  • Do I recognize in me a tendency to think that I have to do things by myself or in isolation from other branches of the Vincentian Family?
  • Am I convinced that others share a vision that is concerned about the least of our brothers and sisters?
  • Do I seek to identify others who share my concerns and actively seek to partner with them?
  • Do I allow my limitations to remind me to ask others …or join with others

Click below for an audio version of this reflection…