|By kunal (kunal.vicky) via Wikimedia Commons|
The current news cycle feels very much the same. Charleston. Laudato Si'. ACA. Tim Hunt. Rachel Dolezal. More vitriol. More finger wagging and hand wringing. Sorry, not sorry. There are lots of words, flying as fast and furious as the storm, but very little in the way of broad based sustained response. We're tempested.
I struggle in places to see any hope. What can I say to people who flat out reject the dignity of huge swaths of humanity, who see themselves as better, more deserving than the majority of humanity, that would move them an inch, a micrometer? Yet how can I say nothing?
As I read Laudato Si' I keep hearing the underlying questions about how we define progress, whose lives does it improve, what are the risks to the most vulnerable. We live now in a moment when demographics rule, where marketers construct homunculi from bits of information: where we live, who we vote for, what we buy, what websites we visit. We confuse these constructs, built entirely from surface markers, with living breathing human beings with the capacity to think, to love, and, alas, to sin in things both mundane and horrifying. Knowing that I'm a grey-haired Catholic woman in her 50s who receives Communion in the hand, uses a hyphenated name (in some contexts) and eschews make-up may tell you about the next pair of shoes I will buy, but it does not tell you who I am, who and what I love.
How does our cultural reliance on demographics feed into racism, sexism and not-so-random acts of discrimination? We sort people into ever smaller boxes, so are we surprised that the conversation becomes ever more divisive, our contacts contracting into ever tinier circles?