September 24, 2021: 3 things that having us thinking about community this week
What does it mean to say "we"?
Community has become a bit of a buzzword in recent years. It has found its place in corporate lingo, and marketers have strategized how to build community for increased ROI. There are even community "tools" that have sprung up from Silicon Valley in response to the demand for community in the digital age.
But at the heart of this trend, there is a real human need for connection...something intrinsic and fundamentally human that drives us to want to protect each other and survive "together." When we see other humans suffering, we are moved with concern. So how do we respond?
Here are the stories that occupied our hearts and minds this week...
Haitian immigrants at the border
Our hearts broke this week as video footage emerged of US Border Patrol chasing down Haitian immigrants who came to the US seeking asylum. Even if the Border Patrol were just doing their jobs, as some have defended them, many have said the images looked starkly similar to historical images of the enslavement of black people.
The White House called it "horrific," but many are calling on the administration to take further action. Leader in the UN's refugee agency even expressed serious concern about the report and that the US may not be honoring this fundamental human right.
This story comes during National Migration Week. A prayer shared by the US Catholic bishops for this week said, "Bless each act of welcome and outreach that draws those in exile into the “we” of community and of the Church." This is exactly what we need more of at the border and in our communities, and we hope this prayer will move us to action.
Gabby Petito, the girl who went missing
Have you been following the story? A coroner has officially ruled the 22-year-old's death a homicide. And they wonder why girls get nervous about traveling alone.
There are so many harrowing details from the case, but a few stood out to us. The first is how important the call to the police from someone who saw Gabby and her fiancé Brian Laundrie in a physical altercation before her death, which added valuable context to her final days, and is a strong reminder for us all to be better bystanders. The second is the number of days (11) passed before her family reported her missing after losing contact with Gabby. We don't know about you, but it makes us want to call our grandma and finally text back the friend we've been meaning to get back to for weeks.
We pray there will be justice for Gabby and peace for her family. But we are also aware of the severe disparity between media coverage of her case compared to missing women of color. The term 'missing white woman syndrome' was in the spotlight this week, and adds a gut-wrenching dose of reality to the story.
Community in our daily lives
Have you heard of the concepts of circle of concern versus circle of influence? The response of millions of people to these big headlines is the perfect example of 'circle of concern' — we care about these issues. We have an empathatic, human response to the suffering we are seeing.
But instead of pouring our energy into following the news, consider how you might respond within your circle of influence? This can look like finding out how to help refugees resettling in your area. Sending money to support aid in Haiti. Calling a friend you haven't talk to in a while. Learning domestic abuse hotlines and resources to be a better bystander. Or even saying hello to the new face you see at church this weekend.
Here are a few other top picks for the week...
READ: A Place to Belong: Letters from Catholic Women
Twenty-five women from various states in life—including religious sisters, entrepreneurs, artists, and activists—explore the many ways women live out their unique attentiveness to the human person in the family, in the Church, and in the world.
WATCH: Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall (FemCatholic Book Club)
This powerful book explores the nuances of more typical feminist issues like body image and male-female dynamics, and less "common" ones like food insecurity and gun violence — all from a black feminist perspective.
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