PC: BBC News

The world is currently facing the greatest common enemy of our time. Everyone is at risk and no social structures can confidently guarantee the protection we need from the menace of COVID-19. And as of today, no human brain has been able so far to fathom the exit pathway from the shambles of this virus.

We are all running for our lives, hence the famous slogan that has nowadays gained prominence: Social distancing! Nonetheless, if there is anything that we could learn from today’s tragedy, that will be the discovery of our common fragility. And a lesson like this will also challenges us to acknowledge that our shared humanity deserves indeed equal share of consideration, protection and dignity.

We, at Jesuit Urumuri Centre, have realized that no one of us can practice the virtue of considerate perception of their neighbors without opening up to the reality surrounding them. Social proximity, through whichever form of medium that respects physical distancing, stands out therefore as an absolute imperative that will liberate us from the hostage of COVID-19.

COVID-19 is more than a medical problem in most of our societies. The drastic preventive measures adopted by most of our countries have obvious repercussions on individuals’ spiritual, social, and cultural expressions of life. Hence tackling its devastating impact will require of us to mobilize ourselves around each and everyone so that we may be able to understand the pain of each and every one of us. Social proximity to the most vulnerable of our societies will enable us respond to our responsibility to ensure protection of everyone’s dignity even in times like these.

Our social justice tradition in the Catholic Church has always upheld principles of common good, solidarity, and right to life as true embodiments of our very existence since no human life can be sustained outside the interdependence principle. The honoring of this truth about our existence cries out today more than ever before.

While keeping the norm of physical distancing, let’s not distance our minds and hearts from the pains of hunger, lack of basic needs, and spiritual despair of our brethren who are living in more destitute conditions than ours. It’s no doubt COVID-19 has frustrated a great number of our dreams, businesses, and targets. But keeping an eye on what is happening around us, social proximity, will definitively show us that in as much as we need relief to uplift our spirits; we may be standing still in better position to uplift the spirit of our immediate neighbor first.

Granted, in the coming weeks, for as long as we continue battling the effects of COVID-19, Jesuit Urumuri Centre wishes to keep inspiring the large public on the priority of social proximity in ensuring a comprehensive response to this novel crisis. Keep visiting our blog series  at www.juc-rwb.org for spirit molding in the love of neighbor that Christ has beleaguered us.

Fr. Patrice Ndayisenga, SJ
Director, Jesuit Urumuri Centre