By Christopher Hunt
Education and informed action are our primary responsibilities to advance the common project proposed in Fratelli Tutti (FT). The “Good Samaritan” attitude is an essential business too.
We have a responsibility to learn our history, to learn the philosophy and teachings that the Church has handed down to the laity so that we can be informed and understand what is going on concerning our current events. We must view the news of the day through the context of history in order to better interpret and understand the realities we are being faced with. This gives us the burden of continual education through reading and the use of educational media. This is also necessary if we wish to form our children correctly, for if we do not do this “someone [will tell our children] to ignore their history, to reject the experiences of their elders, to look down on the past and to look forward to a future that he himself holds out, doesn’t it then become easy to draw them along so that they only do what he tells them? He needs the young to be shallow, uprooted and distrustful, so that they can trust only in his promises and act according to his plans. That is how various ideologies operate: they destroy (or deconstruct) all differences so that they can reign unopposed. To do so, however, they need young people who have no use for history, who spurn the spiritual and human riches inherited from past generations and are ignorant of everything that came before them” (FT 13). Therefore, we must know our history, our culture, and retain the unique aspects that give us so much to offer on the grander scheme of which we are speaking. If we lose this, we “end up losing not only (our) spiritual identity but also (our) moral consistency and, in the end, (our) intellectual, economic and political independence” (FT 14).
So, one of our foundational responsibilities is the formation and education of our children. A good formation nurtures responsible and caring citizen, builds good families, builds good communities, builds good states, builds a good international community. We must educate our children well in religion, philosophy, history and the academic subjects. This is our duty, not the duty of the state, though the state may be of help. When choosing educational institutions, we must choose wisely. If there are not affordable institutions that will aid us in properly forming our children, then we must take the responsibility on, and homeschool our children.
It does not end with our children. In fraternal love we may be the Good Samaritan to our brothers and sisters in our extended families, our church families, and our communal families by supporting our local Catholic schools, and other public and private schools in our area which are forming children well, by advocating for better curricula if they are not, and by aiding schools in poorer areas of your community with charitable donations and political activism. We can also help by aiding those people in our circles that cannot afford a good education for their children. As we are looking to the world, we can personally be the Good Samaritan to those in poorer nations. St. Paul VI tells us “that economic growth is dependent on social progress, the goal to which it aspires; and that basic education is the first objective for any nation seeking to develop itself. Lack of education is as serious as lack of food; the illiterate is a starved spirit” (Populorum Progressio, 35). Do you have friends in a poor nation? Do others in your circle have friends in poor nations? Often, a good education in a poor nation is inexpensive by our standards, though prohibitive to the average families abroad in such nations. If our personal finances allow, we can sponsor a family’s child or children to get a good primary education. If it is possible, we can host young adults who aspire to university education in our nation’s institutions. It will be these educated children and young adults that will bring their new skills to the building of their respective nations. “(Authentic democracy) requires that the necessary conditions be present for the advancement both of the individual through education and formation in true ideals, and of the ‘subjectivity' of society through the creation of structures of participation and shared responsibility” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 406).
Another way to be the Good Samaritan is by rejecting that globalization of indifference which seems to have overshadowed those of us in the wealthier countries. Often, we buy clothes, phones, gadgets, coffee, produce which was made, assembled, grown by people who are made to be slaves. We have heard of poor Chinese workers jumping to their deaths in order to escape the dire situation they are put in. Made to sleep where they work, building the technology we spend exorbitant amounts of money on, or those poor souls in that clothing factory in South Asia who were locked inside so as to force them to work in horrid conditions, making our clothes that we buy, which cost less than the material to make them ourselves. They died not being able to escape the fire that engulfed the building. So, we can be the Good Samaritan by advocating as citizens to our congressmen and senators and to our president to demand the respect for human rights of workers across the globe and to support international trade laws that do not allow our corporations to utilize goods made and procured in such fashion. And we can also choose how we purchase. This can be sacrificial in some regards as we switch to purchasing fair trade products whenever available or purchasing the more expensive garment that was not made by slave labor. In a word, buy mindfully, in a spirit of fraternal love for our brothers and sisters that are far removed from our lives.
There is also the obvious actions of the Good Samaritan, which is aiding in local charities, personally feeding and clothing the hungry and poor in your community, fighting for prison and justice reform. There are often soup kitchens that need food and volunteers, places that accept clothing for the poor. These are immediate necessities, and we must work to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. Our aid right now to those in need in our community is a responsibility. We will need to grow in fortitude to speak up against meanness and bullying, against racism whenever we encounter it. We must stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters -locally and across the world- that do not have the means that we have, and we must work to help them to acquire better means.
We must work at this with all people of good will. Let’s boost our fraternal bonds with all communities and reload our energy as we advance this common project.