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Friday, July 20, 2007

In the face of a scorning world

"In our eulogies of poverty which we have printed again and again in The Catholic Worker, one of which is running in this issue of the paper, we write with the recognition that we stand as Americans, representing in the eyes of the world the richest nation on earth. What does it matter that we live with the poor, with those of the skid rows, and that those in our other houses throughout the country are living with poverty which is so great a scandal in a land of plenty. We know that we can never attain to the poverty of the destitute around us. We awake with it in our ears in the morning, listening to the bread line forming under our window, and we see it lined up even on such a day as the gale of last Saturday when glass and tin and bricks were flying down the street.

The only way we can make up for it is by giving of our time, our strength, our cheerfulness, our loving kindness, our gentleness to all. We have to overcome our Leon Bloy tendencies to bitterness and recrimination.

Let us pray that we do not hear our Lord call out to us, "Woe unto you rich!" "Woe unto you who judge!"

What are we to do? Young men in the draft age feel caught and torn in their humility and in their desire to share the sufferings of others, and in their very real desire to fight the gigantic evils of this world under what ever name they are called. Some of them are having the grace to resist, to oppose the draft, to oppose participation in fruitless slaughter. But if they do it with pride, with condemnation of others, with bitterness, then their stand is questionable also. It is true they will suffer with bitterness, and even the little Flower herself said that bitterness was a part of suffering that made it harder. If they are jailed there are plenty of opportunities for the works of mercy in jail among the poor there. They will be even more on the side of the poor.

If they obey the call as we have seen quite a number go, against their convictions, let us pray that they have opportunity to minister to the suffering. There is no due deliberation and full consent of the will in wartime, but a blind instinct for self preservation. We can make no judgements on the armies involved, but on war itself, the means used of atomic warfare, obliteration bombing, the ever increasing use of destruction to wipe out ideas, philosophies. We can quote Ezekiel who wrote "Woe to the Shepherds who do not feed their sheep the gospel of peace."

It grows ever harder to talk of love in the face of a scorning world. We have not begun to learn the meaning of love, the strength of it, the joy of it. And I am afraid we are not going to learn it from reading the daily papers or considering the struggles that are taking place on the other side of the world and in the United Nations halls here at home."

"The Message of Love"
By Dorothy Day
The Catholic Worker, December 1950, 1, 2.