Soul-changing Solidarity | Development and Peace

Soul-changing Solidarity

June 25, 2013
Karen Rawlings, Member of Development and Peace

Several members of Development and Peace along with two Regional Animators are currently on a solidarity tour of Madagascar to visit with local organizations supported by Development and Peace. Over the next few weeks, they will be writing about their visits and experiences.

So here I am at home, a week after coming home from the Development and Peace solidarity tour of Madagascar. My suitcase is cleaned out and the jet lag has fallen away but hopefully my sense of responsibility for our “family” in Madagascar has not. Now I am just left with many memories and questions. How is this ending a new beginning? How can we help create a more just and peaceful world? How do we alleviate the deep poverty and suffering of those affected by political instability, greed, conflict? What can one person do?

Personally I find it difficult to articulate how much these relationships and experiences have affected me. The work being done in Madagascar is amazing and inspiring. The liturgical celebrations we shared with our various partners were, for me, very moving in the sense of community and connectedness that I felt. On our last day we participated in a beautiful Mass of Thanksgiving for the work of Development and Peace. We prayed, sang and danced together. The action of the Spirit transcends language and culture and touches the heart!

With this shift in awareness, there is the issue of trying to reconcile the excesses we have here at home with the poverty being battled by our brothers and sisters in the global south. I’ve heard this referred to as “the shock of re-entry”. Once you can put faces to it, injustice is hard to forget. A widened perspective brings a soul-changing sense of compassion and responsibility to help change the circumstances of those who so desperately need assistance.

So the task now is to communicate at home the continued need for our help of our partners in Madagascar, in areas such as education, health, employment, civil rights advocacy and awareness.Indeed, as Pope Paul VI so aptly said, "If you want peace, work for justice."