"The biggest lie of late is that we are all in this together. It is simply not true."

Charles Lewis: It’s time to really share our blessings

By 
  • May 14, 2020

There is not a lot to commend living in a quarantined world.

It is hard to take comfort in one’s own peaceful surroundings when a great struggle is taking place around us. Even if the virus does not directly touch us, we know people around us are sick and dying. We know, too, the economic strain on many is crushing.

Life is the most important thing of all and so a financial price has to be paid to keep safe. That is true. But suddenly living in reduced circumstances can take a terrible psychological toll. Financial problems can create anger and discord in a family where there once was peace and harmony.

Imagine you are part of a young family with a new home and mortgage and debts and expenses. What was pure joy has become cause for deep anxiety. How will we get through this? What will the future hold? Will the job I had still be there?

There is no guarantee that when this pandemic is over everything will revert to normal. In fact, it likely will not.

The biggest lie of late is that we are all in this together. It is simply not true.

Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan quoted a tweet from a writer friend that sums up the situation perfectly: “We are not all in the same boat. We are all in the same storm.”

Noonan added: “Some will sail through, health and profession intact, some will lose one or both. Some of us get to feel we’re part of a substantial crew. Some of us feel we’re rowing alone.”

Those of us who do not have these worries will bear a lot of responsibility for the future of our friends and communities. It will also test our generosity and our commitment to love our neighbours as ourselves. This will test our commitment to Jesus Christ and His Church and what it means to say we are all part of His body. The worst thing we could do is say it is up to the government to fix the mess left in the aftermath.

If I were in trouble I would rather know my friends and family are there to help rather than some anonymous bureaucrat hidden behind a pile of complicated forms.

The Catholic author Frank Sheed wrote this many years ago: “When did we last give a gift of money that meant denying ourselves something we badly wanted?”

Maybe that time is near.

We must remember all those weekly donations we have not made to our parishes in these past weeks. That money will not replace itself. Our parishes are our second homes and we cannot let them run down. It might be a good idea to send them a cheque right now.

Take stock of what you own. You may realize you do not need any more stuff.  You may conclude you do not need the most expensive car, nor the most expensive computer or phone. Very few of us derive true happiness from the latest product.

Instead, give to such charities as ShareLife, the Sisters of Life or the Good Shepherd Ministries to help them pick up the pieces. Money should be shared because it is a blessing. Sometimes we have more money than others because we work hard; sometimes we have more because we are lucky.

In a recent Saturday Wall Street Journal, the paper asked some famous writers and public figures to pretend they were addressing the graduating class of 2020.

Nikki Haley, former governor of South Carolina and ambassador to the UN, wrote what I consider the most important message: “Today, I’d like to focus on something different: gratitude. I don’t mean gratitude in the Hallmark-card sense but in the active, change-making sense — to take the things from which we have benefited and pay them forward.

“Being grateful is about the future, not the past. Gratitude means looking at all that you have and understanding it didn’t all come from you. Real, active gratitude carries a responsibility to share the blessings in your life with others, to make a conscious effort to make life better for others.”

What more needs to be said other than Amen.

(Lewis is a Toronto writer and regular contributor to The Register.)

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