In So Many Words
The pandemic has shown how unequal our world is, particularly for those suffering with a mental illness. Though mental illness is considered a long-term illness, unfortunately it is often neglected in health care, and it doesn’t get the attention it merits. The sad reality is that in the developing world, psychiatric services are often sidelined.
We are living in a very unjust world, and the Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated that. While in some countries people are receiving booster doses of the vaccine, millions of people in developing countries haven’t even received their first dose. The pandemic has affected us all in many ways. No one was prepared for it. It has been a time of so much uncertainty and much soul-searching. We were ushered into this situation without wanting it—into a liminal space.
Lately, I have noticed that the number of beggars in Pakistan has increased. I see the faces of children, young people, women, men and older people—as well as the physically and mentally challenged. Recently, I went to the market to buy fruit and some essential things for our house. I was surrounded quickly by more than five people, begging for food and medicine. I could see the desperation in their eyes, their emaciated look—they were in pain and hungry. To start giving the fruit to them would cause ten more to immediately appear.
I know that billions of our brothers and sisters have been pushed to the margins, the forgotten, hungry victims of our unjust world. Every one of us has a responsibility to address these disparities.
I felt ashamed and so uncomfortable, carrying away the food and not sharing with them as I wanted to. I was grateful that I was wearing a face mask so as to hide my shame, frustration, and the tears in my eyes. I know that billions of our brothers and sisters have been pushed to the margins, the forgotten, hungry victims of our unjust world. Every one of us has a responsibility to address these disparities. It will take a concerted effort by organizations, humanitarian groups and individuals.
In my own little way, I can only embrace my helplessness, vulnerability and frustration in the light of faith. I trust God to give me the wisdom and the grace to offer love and compassion to those around me who are suffering and in great need. May we continue to be more conscious of how we live and strive to promote life around us knowing how interconnected we all are. Let us live by Mahatma Gandhi’s aphorism: “To live simply so that others may simply live.”
Columban Sr. Anne Carbon lives and works in Pakistan.