By the Prophetic Voice Commission, Sisters of Mercy of CCASA (Caribbean, Central, South America)*
We would like to share with you some reflections regarding these unforeseen, difficult and painful times we are living, but, above all, we want to leave with you a hopeful reflection that will allow us to see the opportunities we have so as to build a world in accordance with God’s heart. In these uncertain times, we count on the certainty of love as life force.
The pandemic is presented as a health crisis, but it is more than that. The pandemic has laid bare the economic, social and existential crisis that neo-liberal, patriarchal, militaristic and racist systems have brought to the majority of the Earth and to Latin America’s citizens. It is related to the realities of the neo-liberal system, to cuts in public services (health, pension, education)—that is to say, the “flexibilization” of economic, social and cultural rights and their passing into private hands. Countries’ greatest investments are focused around the strengthening of military forces and the purchase of weapons of war. On the other hand, they speak of development that privileges extractivist looting and strengthens the financial system and large corporations at the expense of labor, rural areas and indigenous communities whose territories are expropriated.
The coronavirus has shaken the foundations of this system. Emotions overwhelm us; fear of death surfaces, and uncertainty appears in the midst of a quarantine that obliges us to come to a stop. Come to a stop, allow the time in which life can find the opportunity of regenerating itself. Come to a stop, allow stillness, be at home, recapture the internal time that will enable us to reflect, be quiet, feel, think, pray, meditate, read, plant, cook, sing, dance, exercise, make handicrafts and communicate with the help of technology. It is an opportunity to rediscover our interrelations and revise our lifestyles so as not to return to normal.
It has been said, “We cannot return to normal because normal is the problem.” We agree with this statement. Normal is associated with the impoverishment of the vast majority, the imprisonment and death of those who defend nature’s common goods. Violence against women, sexual violence and femicide are the norm. Exploitation of living beings, slavery and extinction of thousands of species on our planet are the norm. Waters cry out, woods die, Mother Earth is devastated due to the lifestyle imposed by this system, this norm.
We have been living an accelerated process of decentralization that has distanced us from our essence as human beings and has placed the life of our planetary body on the verge of extinction. We are facing a clear disjunction: “I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life.” (Dt. 30:15–19)
This crisis helps us consider the changes we must make as humanity. Undoubtedly, it is a crucial moment that reveals the most beautiful aspects of the human heart and, at the same time, the cruelest aspects of the neo-liberal system, with its shameless inequality and indifference, and the exclusion of other living beings from their right to their habitats and a safe life.
It is a Kairos time, the passing of the Spirit of Life in the midst of death. Many people are organizing; love comes through despite social distancing, it is not limited; it leads to organization for the sake of helping, comforting, encouraging, accompanying. It leads us to grow in solidarity, in the search for justice, altruism, brotherhood, affirmation of life and peace.
We are recognizing our capacity for solidarity that is nurtured with the values of our peoples and their historic struggle in the defense of life. The source of our hope is looking, listening and acting based on the deep feelings of our peoples.
Let us release our creativity to organize ourselves, support one another and continue walking with our people. Changing from the inside out can stop the resurgence of this authoritarian, inhumane and biocidal global system.
It is a time of asking ourselves questions to break the rules of normalcy and cleanse our minds and hearts; it is a time of love and solidarity.
God of Wisdom and Mystery, in this time of pandemic, how do you invite us to respond as a Mercy family?
*The CCASA Prophetic Voice Commission is Mercy Associate Nelly Del Cid and Sisters Tita López, María Ines Olguín, Masbely Del Cid, Dina Altamiranda, Terry Kimingiri, Ana Siufi and Carmen Rosa Ccallomamani.