Daughters of Charity at the UN

The Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul work at the United Nations to influence policies that affect people who suffer from poverty, injustice, or exclusion. Their services lead them to get involved in struggles such as the lack of housing, human trafficking, the eradication of poverty, indigenous concerns, climate change, migration, etc. Like the Community, the United Nations is commit to “leave no one behind”. Through this series of monthly documents, we hope to show the links between the expectations of the United Nations, the Community and the Church on essential themes, and to stimulate reflection or action on these.
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We Cannot be Silent! Mutuality and Interdependence: How we have dealt with these concepts. (Part 2)

The question is: Have we embraced these differences? Or have we ignored or tried to mould the “other” in our midst into something more familiar?

In addressing the idea that we live in the conscious presence of difference, Cecile Meijer, RSCJ reminds us that: “The presence of God within all creation is not only repeated over and over again in the Scriptures, this life-giving breath of God has been sustaining energy throughout our human history.” Thomas Merton articulates this reality of the God Within in these words: “God has, so to speak, put something of the divine goodness in everything. There are holy sparks in all created beings. The human task is to see these things and to liberate the divine sparks in creation by praise, love and joy.”

A meticulous advocate and educator, Meijer says: “Respect for each human being and organism on planet Earth – persons, animals, plants, etc. – as God’s home breaks down walls and prejudices. What it boils down to is the realization that if God lives in me, then God lives equally in my neighbour and in everything that breathes – everything that is.”

This awareness has huge implications. For example, as Christians we are continuously invited to make room for God, to widen the flaps of our tent, so to speak.

But if God lives equally in other people, doesn’t this mean that we are called to make it possible for other people to widen the flaps of their tents by living in more dignity? Doesn’t that challenge us to work for structural change so that the growing inequalities within and among countries can be addressed? (Cecile Meijer, “The Indwelling Presence on our World, It is good for us be here, Xlibris, 2015, p.8)

Sadly, in recent years, our world has both witnessed and experienced a coarsening of discourse in the political realm. Demonizing the “other”, instead of disagreeing civilly and attempting to arrive through compromise at consensus, has become the norm. How can we educate and invite each other to shift our ‘safe-zone’ thinking and journey toward the “other”, embracing the concept of oneness and the realisation that we are all in this together?

Daughters of Charity at the UN archives