This article was published in the Helena Independent Record and be sourced at this LINK.
In such a contentious and polarizing time in human history, it is hard to not get frustrated and angry with injustices you hear and see or with those who hold a completely different belief system than you. It is so easy to feel like you are the victim of “fake news,” lies, or “gaslighting.” Recently, I was reading through the book of Genesis, which includes the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. After being caught lying and playing the blame game about eating of the fruit of the forbidden tree, Adam and Eve were expulsed from the Garden. God was the first victim of lies from humans. Interesting, but wait; there’s more! The next chapter, after killing his brother Abel, God asks Cain where his brother is. Cain responds, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” Surprise! God was the first victim of gaslighting, too.
While “fake news,” lies, and “gaslighting,” certainly don’t and never have benefit society, what I’d like to focus on today, since it was asked at almost the beginning of creation, is Cain’s question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” A further understanding of this question translated to modern times is, should I help take care of those in need? After pondering, I hope your answer is a strong and unequivocable, “YES!” Which leads us to another hot-button topic in society, pro-life. The pro-life discussion is frequently narrowed down to revolve just around the early stages of life, when the complete pro-life discussion includes the time spanning from conception until natural death, calling for us to take care of those in need, no matter their age, stage of development, economic status, or other dividing factor. Fun fact! No one is perfect. Everyone is in need. Some in more extreme and evident ways than others, but everyone is in need. If you answered yes to the above question, then you are likely one of those who doesn’t need as extreme or evident help as another, which is great! Hopefully you can give back and help those who are in further need.
As a Catholic, I prefer to reference Catholic social teaching, which provides a framework of how persons and organizations, religious or not, can help build a just society that takes care of all, especially those in need. Please read and contemplate the following statements.
“Every person is precious; people are more important than things.”
“People have a right and a duty to participate in society and community, seeking the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.”
“Every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency.”
“There is a division between rich and poor and the needs of the poor and vulnerable should be put first.”
“Work is more than just a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in society and God’s creation. The dignity of work and contribution to society should be protected, ensuring the rights of workers be respected.”
“We should love our neighbors. We are a human family, whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences.”
“We should show our respect for God’s creation. Through our creation, we are called to protect all creatures and environments God created, providing faithful stewardship.
The above statements are principles of Catholic social teaching and I like to believe, are generally universally agreed upon. The interesting part? Each one of those statements is considered pro-life. How are they pro-life? They each benefit society and the human person. If they benefit society and the human person, they are inherently pro-life because we as humans are walking, rolling, talking, high-fiving, and living life all over the place!
Helping others, especially outside your circle of control, can feel difficult. This time of year, around the holidays, especially considering the current state of our economy, it is important as many are cold, hungry, and isolated. Thankfully, it’s quite simple! There are many ways to help those in need, the easiest being to simply donate financially to an organization doing good work, donate your time and talents volunteering with an organization that could use your help, pray for those working with those most in need in our world, and simplest of all, approach each day with patience, respect, and caring for every person and the needs they may have.
Are we our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers? Yes, yes we are.
Scott Held is the Executive Director for Catholic Social Services of Montana. He oversees the organization’s ministries, which serve the entire state of Montana and include adoption services, post-birth and parental support services, disaster relief support, and soon-to-arrive mental health services.