Charity is the cement which binds Communities to God and persons to one another… — St Vincent de Paul, Founder of the Congregation of the Mission
This is the quote I picked for my Christmas card this year (sorry for everyone who will receive one if that spoils the surprise) because I’ve been thinking a lot about community and alienation. What has happened that so many people feel alienated?
Recognizing that I think about community a lot, I can name several off the top of my head where I feel welcomed, heard as a person, but also challenged to be a better member of the community. Somewhere along the way, in our quest toward political correctness, my small quote by a Roman Catholic saint has become offensive to some because it is an expression of my faith and beliefs. Trust me, I won’t tell you that you have to believe like I do, but sharing this quote is my way of telling the world, and especially those closest to me, a little bit about what I value — my faith, giving back to others, building community. It is my sincere wish that everyone in my life can agree with some part of that trinity of a message, regardless of your other beliefs. I recognize that we live in a broken world, but it is my hope that we all have communities that welcome us, challenge us, and create the human connections that enable us to thrive. Invite someone new to lunch, introduce yourself to someone new at church, look the homeless person in the eye as you give a bit of change, count to ten before snapping at the sales clerk. You never know how your kindness and compassion might spark a bit more kindness and compassion, thus building community, in ways both large and small. And maybe, just maybe, so someone feels a little less lonely and alienated.