Isn’t it curious that in our world of instantaneous communication so many of us feel ‘unrooted.’ Could it be that the dizzying volume and array of distractions that invade our daily lives elicit in us a reaction so necessarily defensive and indiscriminate that we respond to the worthy and the worthless with the same degree of attention? We lose our capacity for discernment.
Every attraction and distraction is met with the same level of interest which, because of our lack of discrimination, readily becomes a level of indifference. So, we find ourselves somehow adrift. Nothing holds us and draws us more deeply into the depths of its reality.
It’s as though we are buoyed and bandied about above a sea of frenzied revelers in a mosh pit. We have a thousand points of contact but no roots. So withered has our humanity been rendered we have unconsciously relegated our dignity to the realm of irrelevance.
Anyone seeking a cure for this ‘rootlessness’ would do well to acquaint himself with Caritas Internationalis. It is a confederation, headquartered in Rome, with over 160 member organizations (national Catholic Caritas organizations) that work in almost every country of the world responding to humanitarian disasters, promoting integral human development, and advocating on causes of poverty and violence.
As its website states, Caritas Internationalis “seeks a world where the voices of the poor are heard and acted upon. This is a world where women and men in the poorest and most disadvantaged communities are able to influence the systems, decisions and resources that affect them. They can then live under governments, institutions and global structures that are just and accountable.”
Founded in the early 1950s Caritas Internationalis has been responding to humanitarian crises around the world for over 60 years. One needs only to review its “timeline” over those decades to revisit the calamities that have struck the world during this period. Older readers will remember the troubles in Biafra, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Darfur, Rwanda, Eastern Europe, Central America, Haiti, Kashmir, and many more.
But in addition to providing disaster relief, Caritas Internationalis fosters integrated human development and encourages respect for the environment so that people might live and flourish in peace and dignity.
Recently, a fund has been established at the National Catholic Community Foundation to support the works of Caritas Internationalis. Already some donors have contributed to help the alarming refugee situation in the Middle East.
Surely, for at least some of these donors the outreach to Caritas Internationalis is not just another point of connection but, more important, a rediscovery and deepening of their own roots in the Christian soil of dignity, solidarity and stewardship. By addressing the dignity of others, they reestablish and strengthen their own and become more solidly grounded and rooted in authentic humanity.
Dana Robinson is chair of the board of trustees of the National Catholic Community Foundation.