I think perhaps that there is no more searching question in today’s individualistic world than the title of this reflection. The more one looks at secular materialism as a philosophy and culture the more one will be convinced that the individualism that underpins it is destructive of the human dignity of each and every individual. It is as though we are being taught that we exist as entities unto ourselves and the fundamental interconnectedness of persons in society slowly loses its key place in our lives. The whole concept of the ‘Common Good’ seems to me to be slowly being lost to human society. If this is the case, then we had better prepare ourselves for social disaster!

In fact, there is no time to prepare for it because it is already upon us! The breakdown of marriages and the traditional family structure is a good sign of this, as is drug and alcohol abuse and the growing disrespect of youth for their elders. The real question is, what are we going to do about this problem? Those who deny there is a problem, and there are many, need to open their eyes and take a real look at the world around them. The vast inequity in the distribution of the world’s goods, both within a country and worldwide needs to be addressed seriously or the social disaster that is here with us will get much greater.

The desperation poverty breeds will lead to more and more violent crime. If the response of the rich to this is to further insulate their lives from those of the poor, then the problem will get worse! The Church calls us to stand in solidarity with one another. We must learn to treat EVERY person as our neighbor and do what we can to build relationships with asll people, not isolate one group from another. The language of blame may have its place in limited situations but it cannot legitimately used to address the broader problem – remember, when you point your finger at someone else, there are three more poointing back at you!

What am I doing to build bridges with the people around me? How am I growing in relationship with the poor/rich and so standing in solidarity with my neighbor?

Jesus, show me who my neighbor is and grant me the garce to stand in solidarity with them all no matter how different our backgrounds may be.