Hope and Helplessness


Have you ever felt really passionate about something and then as you look at the scale of the issue begun to feel that it might just overwhelm you? I think its quite a common phenomenon that we feel helpless in the face of some of the issues that face our world.
Yesterday I was at a meeting looking at the global issue of Human Trafficking – it was a good meeting – lots of information and some very practical suggestions as to how we could engage with the issue in simple ways. Yet its also a massive and worldwide problem, the scale of which I guess is largely unknown. It would be easy to feel as an individual that my efforts are going to make no difference, and that I am helpless or powerless to bring about any change.
At the meeting we considered briefly what influence each of us could have – there were probably twenty people there, each with different contacts, different expertise – and suddenly there was more energy, and more hope. The power of working as a group is certainly that more can be accomplished than if each of us works alone. Again I am reminded of the question in our Chapter Decree “Dare we be women (people!) of outrageous hope?” and on the issue of traffiking I wonder how could we dare not?

12 Responses to “Hope and Helplessness”

  1. Madeleine, fcJ Says:

    In special education, in the USA, there is a common saying, “Changing the world one child at a time.” I, too, so often feel overwhelmed by how much there is to do to help this planet better resemble what God spoke into being……… And yet, all I actually have is THIS MINUTE, thie NOW….. how am I using the time, energy, resources, passion I’ve got?

    What helps me is to think about the tides…. they go in and they come out and nothing we do makes any difference to them. But when it’s a full tide and the water is rushing and the waves are splashing and it feels like there tons of energy around, I get a lot done…. When the tide is out, no matter how hard I try, I don’t accomplsh much. The trick is to keeping trying, keep focusing on the little things I CAN do, so that when the tide comes back in, I’m in a good position to take adavantage of all the energy!

    These tides help me think about consolation and desolation….. God is always there, but sometimes, I’m not able to connect!

    Thank you for writing these blogs so faithfully…. I am finding them really thought-provoking!!! As Sr. Ethna Earley, fcJ used to say, “Keep on keeping on!”

  2. clarefcj Says:

    Thanks to both Lynne and Madeleine…there is always something we can do…I believe that the good we do is NEVER lost…it lives forever and becomes part of that great impetus for good that pulses within and beyond life…And because of the good we do – day by day we are transforming the whole of creation into the Reign of God. What really gives me a buzz is that we don’t have to be doing the same thing…perhaps we each have something that we are passionate about…It’s the cumulative effect of the good we do, each in our own way, that makes all the difference!

  3. MariJoxe Says:

    I went to this -similar- meeting about Trafficking in London. I felt the same urge to do something myself. The topic brought to my mind some History lessons where I was TA last year, and where slavery, children’s work in the industrial era etc. were taught and discussed.
    I thought that it could be a good idea for this topic -Human Trafficking- to be included in those History lessons. Therefore, I went to the secondary school I taught at last year (Maria Fidelis Convent School FCJ) with the material I got in the meeting and I introduced it to a History teacher who said it was “very appropiate to add in the curriculum, linked with slavery; I was missing it myself”.
    A small step.

  4. Anouska fcJ Says:

    Thanks for that insight Clare. It was reassuring to hear, that we don’t have to be doing the same thing in order to help build the reign of God. We all make that difference in our own way. Thank you.

  5. Joanna,fcJ Says:

    I am also trying to address the injustice of human trafficking. Last semester at Duke Divinity School (North Carolina) two women students and myself organized a meeting to see who was interested in learning more about this issue. About 10 students and one professor showed up! When the new academic year begins in September, we will have several events planned to raise student awareness and eventually see what action can be taken. I plan on asking the human trafficking representative from the North Carolina Council of Churches to come and give a presentation.

  6. Catherine fcj Says:

    Thanks Lynne-due to holiday I was not able to attend either of the meetings on Trafficking bit I would have liked to have been there. I did some research on the internet myself last year when I was still in school with a view to introducing the topic in Sixth Form General RE and also when considering the abolution of slavery which was very topical at the time —-or non-absolutio of slavery. As MarieJoxe sugestd thre are many opening for an introduction of this topic in school.

  7. Claire fcJ Says:

    Thank you Lynne for your sharing and to all who put a comment.
    Two thoughts come to my mind.
    The first comes from a sister who takes care of young girls who are trafficked. She told me that even if only one in ten or twenty is saved then they are happy. Although it is painful to be powerless it is good to give everything: courage, strength, energy to act for the dignity and recognition of women, children and men. Sometimes we can feel unnecessary and as if we are not advancing. We never see the result or really rarely. But the important thing is to continue our work because every drop of water makes a difference and adds up and becomes important in time. And one day something changes in the world that leads to transformation.
    The second reflection is from a man who told me: “why so much suffering in the world, God does not fix it, still I believe he exists? Yes hope, an outrageous hope is needed. You, FCJ, is what you bring to people around you.
    Both these sharings show hope and especially the value of hope for our lives. And to dare to give dynamism and strength.
    How acting for the transformation :
    Open the eyes of those around us, make known through various actions: create leaflets, give lectures, why not an information site … Any action can be a source of reflection and change

  8. clarefcj Says:

    Herlina (one of our FCJ novices, currently based in Indonesia) is just beginning a ministry in which she is working with women who have been victims of trafficking…She will do her own small part, in our name, to change things for the better…One of those drops that goes into making a huge ocean of compassion.

  9. Irmtrud Schreiner Says:

    For the past two years I have been working with SOLWODI, (Solidarity with Women in Distress), an organization in Germany which has existed for almost 25 years and which cares for foreign women living in Germany and who encounter problems. I am constantly dealing with women who have been trafficked and who have ended up in prostitution. The problem is linked very much with people in the developing world seeking a better life. And who would blame them! I find myself often in a dilemma. When I am in a Refugee Center in Munich I wonder: how many will we be able to take, but when I have one person in front of me, hear her story, then there is no doubt that this person has to get a chance now and I move heaven and earth to do all to make it possible for her to stay.
    The problem is also linked with money – prostitution is a huge source of income, at least for some, often not for the prostitutes themselves. The general attitude which says “well, this is the oldest profession in the world, we will never be able to change that!”, the thinking that women are objects, especially sex objects, and the laws in the different countries which are mostly made by men who look at the treatment of women with different eyes, make it very difficult to stir public reaction. Lately it has transpired that a few centers have opened which offer a flat-rate, 70 Euro per night, for as many women as you like, for any service you like! Solwodi’s protest in newspapers has made waves this time, politicians are getting involved and the public is in arms. But it is holiday time, we are in an election period, so one can only hope that by next October it will not be forgotten, when work in Parlament starts again.
    If only we could realize that we are all linked and that the bad treatment of one woman affects us all. But the efforts one person makes in order to bring more love and respect into our world also changes us.

    One of my friends has made a film on the topic, and the CD is now available also with English subtitles (how good the English is, I do not know, I have not seen it yet), but the film is very good, discrete but impressive and can be a good tool to use in a group to start talking about the problem of trafficking of women. Contact me if you are interested.

  10. Lynne fcJ Says:

    I would love to know more about the film – I think this is an issue that we need so much more awareness about.
    Since the meeting I attended it has made me really begin to question the situations around me a lot more, and to wonder how aware I am of the people whose lives are affected by my actions, my purchases, my choices…

  11. Claire T fcJ Says:

    It would be interesting to share this movie. The reality about human trafficking in our society needs to be more awareness for the fight or struggle against this scourge. This is certainly in the light of this reality that our foundress Marie Madeleine Victoire act now to protect girls and women of our time. Maybe I’ve never really realized how this problem affected people and grew like an octopus in our society. Today I am more aware through the different actions that encourage or solicit come my conscience. I would be grateful for the opportunity to see this film.

  12. clarefcj Says:

    I echo the response of those who would like to see the film…I’d love to have a copy if possible…We could use it here to help raise awareness on the issue of trafficking. Here in Indonesia many people are led to seek work abroad attracted by the promise of a good salary and the hope of providing a better life for their families. We need to do all the education we can to make those people we are in contact with aware of the possible risks.
    As Lynne and Claire say, there is the related issue of what I am doing to maintain an unjust system by the choices I make and the kind of lifestyle I assume I have a right to.

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