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Coronavirus, in between Lockdown and Service

My dear brothers and sisters,

I would like to share two thoughts with you. Firstly, much of humanity still suffers from the coronavirus pandemic. We must work to ensure that this pandemic does not become endemic, like HIV. But as we fight it, other evils are emerging. 

I am referring to acts of racism that we have seen flourish in parts of the United States, but that we know exist in many other places on the planet. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul has made a profession of opposing all forms of poverty and repelling its causes.  Where racism, xenophobia and discrimination exist, there are human beings who suffer and who will remain destitute. Above all, we do not want there to be any racism within the SSVP. Nor do we want there to be xenophobic attitudes within the Vincentian Family. We work so that there will be no discrimination in any country. 

We must report it and take action to stop it. No oppression can be naturalized. It cannot be justified. Nor can the declaration on people’s equality coexist with acts of exclusion. This is a huge contradiction. We reject it whether it is committed by right-wing, left-wing or liberal parties.  We contest it anywhere in the world. We reject it in any religion and in any media group. Whoever commits it, regardless of their skin colour. 

Furthermore, when combating the various forms of discrimination, we cannot support those who oppose segregation if they steal, vandalize and do violence to others. So what do we do? Certainly, we can do a lot, since there are other ways out: the judicial system, peaceful protests, complaints to the media and international organizations, education, a proof that it is possible to create inclusive societies. 

Jesus’, Saint Vincent de Paul’s and Blessed Ozanam’s stance was to promote justice in a peaceful way, which, in the long run, is the most effective way. 

Secondly, we must be careful, since lockdown has revealed our weaknesses, our disputes and our deeper selves. I prompt you to watch or watch again the horror classic The Shining, based on a novel by Stephen King in 1977, adapted for the big screen in 1980, with the impressive performance of Jack Nicholson. The film’s central character, Jack Torrance, and his family move into the Overlook Hotel, an isolated resort located in the mountains, after Jack accepts the position as the off-season caretaker. Stuck in a confined space in the middle of nowhere, the caretaker’s insane schizophrenia is exacerbated. The film has other clues, but it serves to warn us of the dangers of a prolonged lockdown. 

Therefore, we join with all those who invite us to be mentally, physically and morally healthy during lockdown, by drawing up an agenda with different tasks: reading, room cleaning, fixing things, learning something new, cooking, browsing the Internet, workout, and maybe telecommuting, etc. 
Call your relatives and friends, especially the elderly, the vulnerable and those self-confined. It will do good for them and for you. If you are accompanied, be kind and respectful. Keep your spirits up. And try to find moments for yourself.  

Pray and meditate. When I wake up in the morning I thank God and ask Him to protect my family, those around me and me. At night, before falling asleep, I thank Jesus for the day, for everything and for being alive. During this pandemic, let us strengthen our devotion to God, which will give rise to a greater love for the poor. Ponder on how to strengthen your primary option for God and your neighbour. If God is the focus of my life, I will show it by being good, understanding, willing to help and supporting those who are worse off than I am. 

Remember, within your possibilities, to keep on collaborating as much as you can and helping the poor within the SSVP. Let me conclude by saying that I wanted to share it so that truth and goodness will prevail in the end. 

Andres Motto, CM.

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