As we begin 2021, there are many causes for concern and yet so many reasons to hope. We are concerned for those who are sick, those who are vulnerable and at risk. We are concerned for the students whose education has been negatively impacted and for employees who have lost their jobs. We are hopeful that 2021 will be better than 2020, that a vaccine will provide relief, and that the world will soon be able to move forward beyond COVID-19.
The experience of this pandemic has shown us the fragility of our world and of our own lives. At the same time, it has pointed us to what really matters in life and indicated some of the areas of our society that are in dire need of change. Business as usual is no longer possible, for better and for worse. There are many challenges to face today, but there is also a tomorrow to hope for and work towards. Amid day-to-day uncertainty, the crucial question that escapes all of us but which is on everyone's mind is: What will tomorrow look like?
It can sometimes be difficult even to know if your kids will go to school next week or what COVID restrictions will look like this time next month. But there is an even longer-lasting question that should make us all pause and reflect: What does a better world look like?
This question is not just the concern of politicians and newsmakers, the state of our world is in all of our hands. What kind of tomorrow do you want and what can you do to make it a reality?
My goal here is not to provide a blueprint for what the world will or should look like post-COVID. Rather, I want to encourage you to dream
. Dream of the kind of world you want. Dare to dream with the people around you, your family, your friends, your coworkers. Dream of how you want us to care for one another in our local communities and walk with those who are in need. Dream of how we can have more just economic systems and more honest politics. Dream of what you can do with the people you know to champion a cause that is near and dear to your heart. Dream of how the lessons we're learning during this pandemic can carry us forward to a better tomorrow.
I could not put it any better than Pope Francis in his most recent encyclical letter Fratelli Tutti
("All Brothers") on the unity of the human family. "Fraternity between all men and women," the pope tells us, is "a splendid secret that shows us how to dream and to turn our life into a wonderful adventure. No one can face life in isolation… We need a community that supports and helps us, in which we can help one another to keep looking ahead. How important it is to dream together… By ourselves, we risk seeing mirages, things that are not there. Dreams, on the other hand, are built together. Let us dream, then, as a single human family, as fellow travelers sharing the same flesh, as children of the same earth which is our common home, each of us bringing the richness of his or her beliefs and convictions, each of us with his or her own voice, brothers and sisters all" (no. 8).
Let us not wait for everything to go back to normal. Let us start dreaming and acting today. What is your contribution right now to a better world? Long before this pandemic is over, your frontiers for working towards a better world already begin in how you treat your family, how you reach out to your friends, how you operate at work or school, how you spend and invest your money, and how you care for those in need. Let us not miss this chance for the struggles of today to bring forth a brighter tomorrow for everyone.
Julian would be happy to hear from you, with any questions, insights, or suggestions you may have regarding this blog series. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Julian Paparella is a theology student at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family Studies in Rome. Born and raised in London, Ontario, he has worked in pastoral ministry in Montreal and Paris, especially with young people. Julian strives to communicate our faith in a way that resonates with everyday life, helping people to better experience God today. He is married to Marion.