“No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There is too much work to do.” — Dorothy Day
Since the November election, I’ve felt heartsick, hopeless, and fearful. I’ve been with young people in tears, terrified of being deported. I’ve sat with a young Muslim woman who was afraid to leave her apartment. I heard from a gay man who is painfully reminded of the bullying and belittling he was forced to endure throughout his childhood. Women are publicly denigrated, reduced to sexual objects; people of color are told that no, their lives and their human rights actually do not matter; Muslims are threatened with a registry and internment camps are hinted at; the physically disabled have been mocked; immigrants have been told that they will be deported. We have all been told that our planet is not worth saving; climate refugees are on their own.
And the poor? The homeless on our streets? There has been no suggestion that there will be any compassion for the least among us – the cold, the hungry, the physically and mentally ill. Christians are commanded to care the most for the stranger, the hungry, the homeless, the imprisoned, the sick. The rich man who neglected Lazarus was condemned. Now, the rich man who has shown his contempt not only for so many human beings, but for the very notion of compassion, has millions of followers.
We began to despair. We realized that millions of people view those about whom we care the most — the poor, sick, imprisoned, immigrants – as contemptible, expendable, less than human.
However, despair is a luxury that we cannot afford. The rain still falls while there are homeless on our streets and in our doorways. Our efforts are so small, but we will stand up and continue them. We will imagine into existence another world. We will continue to welcome the stranger, whoever that person is. We will continue to feed, clothe, and shelter the poor, and we will increase our efforts. We will continue to gather, and pray, and remind ourselves that whatever an executive, or a legislature says, we will love our neighbor as ourselves. We will protect those who others will not. We will remember the words of Dorothy Day: “People say, what is the sense of our small effort? They cannot see that we must law one brick at a time, take one step at a time. A pebble cast into a pond causes ripples that spread in all directions. Each one of our thoughts, words, and deeds is like that. No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There is too much work to do.”
For the past twenty years the light of your faithful support has emboldened us to continue feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and comforting the afflicted. We thank you for your past generous support of our work with those in need and hope you will continue helping us help others.
Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
For all of us at Catholic Worker Hospitality House