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There is too much work to do

| Thursday, February 5, 2015

Social change is a slow and sometimes grueling process. It is never easy to change long-held attitudes or to create institutional reform. Look at past justice movements: the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Movement, the American Indian Movement and many more. These all took decades to create lasting change. The leaders of these movements fought long and hard uphill battles to make a difference.

Dorothy Day led a movement as well — the Catholic Worker Movement. She left us with some important words about slow, incremental change. “People say, what is the sense of our small effort? They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time. A pebble cast into a pond causes ripples that spread in all directions. Each one of our thoughts, words and deeds is like that. No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There is too much work to do.”

Day was right; there is much work to be done. Today, we see so many things that can be improved and so many places where justice is needed. Here at Notre Dame, we pride ourselves on being a beacon of social justice and good will. That is part of what attracted me to this school. I am surrounded by people setting the world on fire, fighting for life, for rights and for justice in every scope. The University as a whole has an amazing track record of standing for what is right. Just look to figures like Fr. Hesburgh or programs like Alliance for Catholic Education. It is clear that this University is more than just a place to learn; this University is an instrument of change.

Dorothy Day would agree that all change is slow. But just because it is slow or our efforts seem small, the ripples extending forth from our actions go further than we can ever know. Right now, Notre Dame students are fighting for a greener and brighter tomorrow. More than 1,000 of you backed the fossil fuel divestment movement on this campus. Some may say that this effort is small. How much change will be caused by Notre Dame dropping its shares in fossil fuel corporations? No one can say for sure, but this action makes a statement that we care about the wellbeing of our earth. Climate change is harming us today, and will continue to affect future generations. How can we stand not to take action? As stewards of the earth and as Catholics, we are called to take care of creation.

We, as a university, cannot sit back and passively condemn climate change. Global climate change is a pressing challenge and one that should not be taken lightly. Sometimes, this issue can make me feel a little bit hopeless. But I do not have the right to sit down and mope. Neither do you, and neither does this University. There is too much work to do.

Kathleen Rocks
Cavanaugh Hall
Feb. 4

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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