is the best you can do

Some years ago, during diaconate formation, we were tasked to discuss a number of serious and ever-growing global issues (e.g. poverty, hunger, genocide, persecution) and to attempt to discern some possible solutions. These discussions spanned several sessions and while conducted with noble intent, generally resulted in complete and utter frustration on the part of the participants. The cause of our frustration was simple: the problems we were asked to discuss and form some positive response were simply too large and overwhelming for any individual or small group to adequately comprehend, let alone be capable of proposing any reasonable and ameliorative resolution.

A Different Point of View

A Different Point of View

Rather than gaining any sense of empowerment, we felt both helpless and hopeless in facing the enormity of these global issues. Each and every participant was filled with compassion, generosity, love, and a genuine desire to help, but ultimately we could discern no viable and realistic solutions, and that was profoundly troubling to us all. Those discussions and the sense of helplessness that resulted from them still pervade my mind today.

Certainly, the problems have never been eliminated. In truth, these problems and many others (e.g. religious persecution, ethnic cleansing, and human trafficking) have continued to grow and fester, lending even greater credence to our insidious and cruel nature, our propensity to treat our own species with terrible and inhumane disregard. Indeed, the enormity and global nature of so many grave and serious issues is such that we have become completely tranquilized to them all. We have become numb to any feelings we might possibly possess regarding these issues.

Despite the apparent insolvability of these intractable problems, as individuals and small communities, we can become part of the solution rather than be part of the problem. It is really all a matter of perspective and approach. Here are a few things each of us can do:

  1. Think small. Admit that no one individual can eliminate hunger or poverty on a global scale, but as Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” It does not take great wealth or power to feed one hungry child or to give someone who is homeless a blanket, a coat, or a pair of shoes you no longer need or want.
  2. Reduce probabilities. I recently read that “you can’t make the world a better place. But you can help reduce the probability of awful things happening, not awful things in principle but individual things. And if that’s the most you do with your life then I think you can say you’ve had a life worth living.”[1] It is the principle of causality that states that any cause will and must have a corresponding effect. What you do, every action you take, how you treat others causes some effect. Treat someone with kindness; lend your time for the good of others and it will reduce the probability of awful things occurring.
  3. Let go and let God. We have difficulty letting go of things and giving up control of our lives. Jesus is perfectly clear on this. Read Matthew 19:16-24 and then Matthew 25:31-45. If you cannot let go of earthly possessions then you cannot let God into your heart.

It really is that simple.


[1] Tim Stevens, Ratcatcher, A John Purkiss Thriller. Thriller fiction is not a normally considered a solid source for great philosophical musings, but this quote rang so profoundly true that I had to make use of it.

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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