Blizzard shows us there is no such thing as the ‘rugged individual’

By Father Joseph Breighner

I am writing this essay while being imprisoned by snow!

Being limited by snow reminds us of one fundamental issue. There is no such thing as the “rugged individual.” Snow reminds us of how dependent we are on each other. I currently am waiting for someone to plow the snow behind the rectory. Next, I’ll be waiting for someone to plow the secondary road that leads from the rectory to the main road. This kind of dependency is obvious.

But the fact that we are constantly dependent on others is not as obvious. However, I am writing on a computer that I didn’t build. I am sitting in a rectory that I had no part in planning or building. I am writing by the light of a bulb that I didn’t manufacture.

If we look at all the things that we typically take for granted in daily life, the reality can be mind -boggling. Who mined the materials that were used for parts of my car? Who transported that raw material? Who changed that into a useful part? Who transported that part to a factory to mix with all the other assembled parts? Who actually assembled the car? Who transported that car to a showroom? Who sold the car? What financial institution was involved in the transaction?

I think you see my point. We could do the same thing with every piece of clothing I wear, with every piece of paper I use, with every piece of furniture and with my glasses.

Who was the farmer or farmers who planted the crops? Who were the persons who harvested the crops, the people who drove the vehicles to transport the crops, the individual who stocked the shelves, the person who built the shopping cart, the person who checked us out in line?

If we then noted that those people had to have parents and grandparents to account for their very existence, friends and relatives who nurtured their existence, we realize that the simplest of our daily activities involve hundreds and thousands of people.

So when the snow reminds us of our dependence on others, it can be a graced moment to remind ourselves that we are always interdependent on each other. All of us matter. All of us have a role.

St. Paul took this awareness to a higher level. He reminded us that, through baptism, we are all part of the Body of Christ. We are not just creatures connected by our roles or our work. We are all part of a graced existence in Christ. We are connected by love.

And since not everyone has accepted Christ or Christianity, I believe we are still connected as the Body of God. The Bible tells us that we humans are created in the image of God! We are related by divinity as well as by humanity. Even people who deny the very existence of God are still creatures of God. The Bible gives us a poetic description of creation in seven days. Science gives us various other ways that God used to create. But we are still made of the “stuff” of God. We are by adoption what God is by nature. When we check our DNA, we discover that we share the divine nature after all.

Only when we forget who we are can we hurt each other. When we remember who we are, then we have the power to live and to love like God.

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Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.