Don’t Rebuild the Same Broken Economy That Failed So Many Essential Workers

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Michael Sandel writes:

Mobilizing to confront the pandemic and, eventually, to reconstruct the shattered economy, requires not only medical and economic expertise but moral and political renewal. We need to ask a basic question that we have evaded over these last decades: What do we owe one another as citizens?…

We need to better reward the social and economic contributions of work done by the majority of Americans, who don’t have college degrees. And we need to reckon with the morally corrosive downsides of meritocracy….

But as an answer to inequality, the rhetoric of rising — the promise that the talented will be able to climb the ladder of success — has a dark side. Part of the problem is that we fail to live up to the meritocratic principles we proclaim. For example, most students at highly selective colleges and universities come from affluent families. At many elite colleges, including Yale and Princeton, there are more students from the top 1 percent than from the entire bottom 60 percent of the country.

There is also a deeper problem: Even a perfect meritocracy, in which opportunities for advancement were truly equal, would corrode solidarity. Focusing on helping the talented clamber up the ladder of success can keep us from noticing that the rungs on the ladder are growing further and further apart.

Meritocracies also produce morally unattractive attitudes among those who make it to the top. The more we believe that our success is our own doing, the less likely we are to feel indebted to, and therefore obligated to, our fellow citizens. The relentless emphasis on rising and striving encourages the winners to inhale too deeply of their success, and to look down on those who lack meritocratic credentials….

Meritocratic hubris and the resentment it provokes are at the heart of the populist backlash against elites. They are also potent sources of social and political polarization. One of the deepest political divides in politics today is between those with and those without a four-year college degree.

In recent decades, governing elites have done little to make life better for the nearly two-thirds of Americans who do not have a college degree. And they have failed to confront what should be one of the central questions of our politics: How can we ensure that Americans who do not inhabit the privileged ranks of the professional classes find dignified work that enables them to support a family, contribute to their community and win social esteem?…

At a time when finance has claimed a greater share of corporate profits, many who labor in the real economy, producing useful goods and services, have not only endured stagnant wages and uncertain job prospects; they have also come to feel that society accords less respect to the kind of work they do.

The coronavirus pandemic has suddenly forced us to reconsider what social and economic roles matter most.

Many of the essential workers during this crisis are performing jobs that do not require college degrees; they are truckers, warehouse workers, delivery workers, police officers, fire fighters, utility maintenance workers, sanitation workers, supermarket cashiers, stock clerks, nurse assistants, hospital orderlies and home care providers….

Beyond thanking them for their service, we should reconfigure our economy and society to accord such workers the compensation and recognition that reflects the true value of their contributions — not only in an emergency but in our everyday lives….

It requires deliberating as democratic citizens about what constitutes a contribution to the common good, and how such contributions should be rewarded — without assuming that markets can decide these questions on their own….

We need to ask whether reopening the economy means going back to a system that, over the past four decades, pulled us apart, or whether we can emerge from this crisis with an economy that enables us to say, and to believe, that we are all in this together.


Why Does God Love Us?

Why does God love me? Why does God forgive sins? Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? Jesuit Autocomplete hosts Fr. Paddy Gilger and Fr. Eric Sundrup answer some of the Internet’s most-searched questions about God:


Cardinal Chito: Isolation Shows How Much We Need Other People

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Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and President of Caritas Internationalis, in Novena:

The pandemic is making the suffering of vulnerable people – 

Can our governments admit that many of them got it wrong when they didn’t allow everyone to belong to the human family in a dignified way?


Pope Francis: Life is of No Use if Not Used to Serve Others

via the Vatican:

God saved us by serving us. We often think we are the ones who serve God. No, he is the one who freely chose to serve us, for he loved us first. It is difficult to love and not be loved in return. And it is even more difficult to serve if we do not let ourselves be served by God….

We can think of all the small or great betrayals that we have suffered in life. It is terrible to discover that a firmly placed trust has been betrayed. From deep within our heart a disappointment surges up that can even make life seem meaningless. This happens because we were born to be loved and to love, and the most painful thing is to be betrayed by someone who promised to be loyal and close to us. We cannot even imagine how painful it was for God who is love….

How many falsehoods, hypocrisies and duplicities! How many good intentions betrayed! How many broken promises! How many resolutions left unfulfilled! The Lord knows our hearts better than we do. He knows how weak and irresolute we are, how many times we fall, how hard it is for us to get up and how difficult it is to heal certain wounds. And what did he do in order to come to our aid and serve us? He told us through the Prophet: “I will heal their faithlessness; I will love them deeply” (Hos 14:5)….

That is the extent to which Jesus served us: he descended into the abyss of our most bitter sufferings, culminating in betrayal and abandonment. Today, in the tragedy of a pandemic, in the face of the many false securities that have now crumbled, in the face of so many hopes betrayed, in the sense of abandonment that weighs upon our hearts, Jesus says to each one of us: “Courage, open your heart to my love. You will feel the consolation of God who sustains you”….

We were put in this world to love him and our neighbours. Everything else passes away, only this remains. The tragedy we are experiencing at this time summons us to take seriously the things that are serious, and not to be caught up in those that matter less; to rediscover that life is of no use if not used to serve others. For life is measured by love….

May we reach out to those who are suffering and those most in need. May we not be concerned about what we lack, but what good we can do for others….

Dear friends, look at the real heroes who come to light in these days: they are not famous, rich and successful people; rather, they are those who are giving themselves in order to serve others. Feel called yourselves to put your lives on the line. Do not be afraid to devote your life to God and to others; it pays! For life is a gift we receive only when we give ourselves away, and our deepest joy comes from saying yes to love, without ifs and buts. To truly say yes to love, without ifs and buts. As Jesus did for us.


5 Tips for Finding God During the Corona Crisis

Millennial writer Patrick Manning writes:

This moment is unlike anything that most of us have ever experienced. The tally of sick and deceased mounts higher every day. We turn on the news or look out our windows to see empty streets and darkened buildings. We are cut off from one another, passing our days in varying degrees of isolation. Worries about our health, finances, and the future we had planned dominate our thoughts. Saints like Ignatius of Loyola enjoin us to “find God in all things,” yet, in moments of crisis like the present, we may find ourselves wondering, “Where is God in all this?” It may feel to some that God is simply absent….

There is no quick fix for a global health crisis, nor for someone who has lost the sense of God’s presence. What follows are rather invitations to be transformed in the awareness and way of being we bring to the present moment. Nothing less will suffice.

#1: Be on the lookout for the unexpected ways God might be working in the crisis.

So much of our fear and anxiety arises from reactive thinking. We obsess over the terrible things that could happen: What if I or my loved ones get sick? What if my business goes under? What if the store runs out of toilet paper? We fixate on what we have lost — our routines, our plans, freedom of movement, maybe even our jobs. Imagining the good that might come out of our current situation comes less easily to us. Yet, when we look back through the history of God’s dealings with humanity, we see that God has brought good forth from evil time and again….

#2: Welcome this moment as a time of Sabbath rest. 
COVID-19 has disrupted the business of the world and forced billions of people worldwide to step outside of their normal routines. For many, this means that life has slowed down considerably. That many of us experience this slowing down as something uncomfortable should tell us something about how inhumane our lifestyles have become, how far we have strayed from God’s vision for our lives….

#3: Refocus on what is most important in life.
While the pandemic has brought additional stress and work hours upon many medical professionals and workers in essential industries, for many others much of life’s daily activity — commuting to work, attending meetings, running errands — has come to an abrupt stop. Again, this may be a gift that we never would have given ourselves. Many of us have been living like Jesus’ friend Martha, who was overwhelmed by all the work to be done. We have been so beholden to our to-do lists that we have lost sight of what is most important….

#4: Spend time with God in prayer.
The doors of retail stores are locked, tables at restaurants sit empty, the lights of Broadway’s theaters have gone down–all because of the COVID crisis. Our world has grown quieter, and, like inactivity, that quiet can be unsettling for those of us who are accustomed to constant noise. Although we may initially perceive it as a threat, this quiet is an invitation….

#5: Connect more deeply with the people in your life.
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of our current situation is the isolation many of us are enduring. The crowds that normally surround us in the office, on the train, and in coffee shops have now dispersed. We are unable to visit with friends and family. Yet there may be an opportunity even in this. If it is true that absence makes the heart grow fonder, then perhaps this time of separation will engender in us a greater appreciation for the people in our lives. And we need not wait passively for this period of separation to take its effect. We are blessed to live in an age of unprecedented connectivity wherein we have the technological capacity to see and speak with people thousands of miles away.


Pope Francis on Easter: We Need Solidarity Not Indifference, Self-centeredness, Division, and Forgetfulness

via the Vatican:

Like a new flame this Good News springs up in the night: the night of a world already faced with epochal challenges and now oppressed by a pandemic severely testing our whole human family. In this night, the Church’s voice rings out: “Christ, my hope, has arisen!” (Easter Sequence).

This is a different “contagion”, a message transmitted from heart to heart – for every human heart awaits this Good News. It is the contagion of hope: “Christ, my hope, is risen!”. This is no magic formula that makes problems vanish. No, the resurrection of Christ is not that. Instead, it is the victory of love over the root of evil, a victory that does not “by-pass” suffering and death, but passes through them, opening a path in the abyss, transforming evil into good: this is the unique hallmark of the power of God….

Today my thoughts turn in the first place to the many who have been directly affected by the coronavirus: the sick, those who have died and family members who mourn the loss of their loved ones, to whom, in some cases, they were unable even to bid a final farewell. May the Lord of life welcome the departed into his kingdom and grant comfort and hope to those still suffering, especially the elderly and those who are alone. May he never withdraw his consolation and help from those who are especially vulnerable, such as persons who work in nursing homes, or live in barracks and prisons. For many, this is an Easter of solitude lived amid the sorrow and hardship that the pandemic is causing, from physical suffering to economic difficulties….

In these weeks, the lives of millions of people have suddenly changed. For many, remaining at home has been an opportunity to reflect, to withdraw from the frenetic pace of life, stay with loved ones and enjoy their company. For many, though, this is also a time of worry about an uncertain future, about jobs that are at risk and about other consequences of the current crisis. I encourage political leaders to work actively for the common good, to provide the means and resources needed to enable everyone to lead a dignified life and, when circumstances allow, to assist them in resuming their normal daily activities.

This is not a time for indifference, because the whole world is suffering and needs to be united in facing the pandemic. May the risen Jesus grant hope to all the poor, to those living on the peripheries, to refugees and the homeless. May these, the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters living in the cities and peripheries of every part of the world, not be abandoned. Let us ensure that they do not lack basic necessities (all the more difficult to find now that many businesses are closed) such as medicine and especially the possibility of adequate health care….

This is not a time for self-centredness, because the challenge we are facing is shared by all, without distinguishing between persons. Among the many areas of the world affected by the coronavirus, I think in a special way of Europe. After the Second World War, this continent was able to rise again, thanks to a concrete spirit of solidarity that enabled it to overcome the rivalries of the past. It is more urgent than ever, especially in the present circumstances, that these rivalries do not regain force, but that all recognize themselves as part of a single family and support one another….

Indifference, self-centredness, division and forgetfulness are not words we want to hear at this time. We want to ban these words for ever! They seem to prevail when fear and death overwhelm us, that is, when we do not let the Lord Jesus triumph in our hearts and lives. May Christ, who has already defeated death and opened for us the way to eternal salvation, dispel the darkness of our suffering humanity and lead us into the light of his glorious day, a day that knows no end.


What Success and Leadership Look Like in the Kingdom of God.

Today is a day that Christians historically have remembered the last meal that Jesus spent with his disciples before his crucifixion. The account of this meal in the Gospel of John is filled with some amazing moments. Perhaps the most powerful for me is the moment where Jesus kneels down and begins to wash his disciple’s feet.

This moment is scandalous to the disciples. They are horrified that their Rabbi (a highly honored position in society) is taking on a role reserved for slaves and servants.

Jesus tells them that this small act of service should be seen as an example of what success and leadership look like in the Kingdom of God.

As we continue to explore how Holy Week can inform how we live, I think it is essential that we take a moment to prayerfully reflect on how we might be called to model our lives and actions after the example that Christ set.

What would it look like for your life to embody scandalous service?

I am reminded of a pastor friend of mine who came to volunteer at Hope Clinic one day and asked me to find the messiest, stinkiest, grossest job. I really appreciated that. He demonstrated that his heart was really centered on serving.

In our own lives, do we run toward the stink? Do we seek out ways to serve with humility and faithfulness? It’s what Jesus did. Becoming an Easter people is all about trusting God enough with our lives that we can lay them down for others.