Amidst the crippling socioeconomic impact of COVID-19 on our society, the Archdiocese of Port of Spain is working hard to secure food for everyone within our national borders, citizens, and non-citizens alike. Although this is a mammoth endeavour logistically speaking, it is not impossible from a moral perspective. The sheer goodwill and sense of humanitarian duty of our people of every creed and race, together with the large financial resources with which this country is blessed, makes the goal of all our people receiving at least three basic meals per day achievable.
COVID-19 is a reality check, a test, and an opportunity. It is a reality check because it has unearthed the levels of subsistence in our country whereby thousands of families live from pay-cheque to pay-cheque. Thousands of people have no way to sustain themselves apart from a daily ‘hustle’. Stemming from this, the COVID-19 pandemic is a test of our moral resolve to ensure that we look critically at our social and economic structures that cause people to live with bare minimum.
Finally, it is an opportunity to live out the Catholic social principle of solidarity which teaches that we must commit to the good and well-being of everyone without exception. The starting point of solidarity is that no-one is redundant, and everyone is of value and everyone matters.
Our Archdiocesan Food Drive, #letnoonegohungry, is built on this aforementioned principle of solidarity. Solidarity reminds us that we are not alone and therefore, we cannot think only about ourselves and our needs.
In our local context, solidarity challenges us to reach out to those who have nothing. Solidarity tells us that others need to have something on their plates too, not only during COVID-19 but, at all times.
Solidarity calls us to care and share, to give and to help over the long haul. It is about creating a culture of caring and sharing amongst individuals regardless of income, education, and status.
#letnoonegohungry envisions that we create structures whereby we are instinctually and culturally alert for those who are falling behind. In the medium to long term, every sector and/or individual of society must always ask the question, ‘How is my/our decision affecting poverty levels in this country?’ Or, simply put, ‘How is my/our decision affecting the spiritual, economic and social well-being of the other person?’
These are questions everyone should ask—from the richest to the poorest. There are far-reaching consequences for this approach.
St John Paul II’s encyclical, On Social Concern (1987) best summarises solidarity with the phrase, “all are responsible for all”. We must see ourselves as responsible for the well-being of the other person.
This does not negate personal responsibility but enhances and supports it, so that he or she can fulfil personal responsibility in their own lives.
This does not create a ‘dependency syndrome’. Integral human development, which is foundational to Catholic Social Teaching, will never endorse or encourage the dependency syndrome that is an affront to human dignity.