by Becca Brokaw
Frederic Ozanam. A student at the Sorbonne in Paris, a student like all of us who was unsettled by all the injustices he saw in the city of Paris, namely issues surrounding unemployment, poverty, and insufficient wages for the working poor. Being an intellectual guy, he created a group to talk about it. One day, while discussing the Church’s role in society, he was asked, “What do you do beside talk to prove the faith you claim?”
This question caused him to act. He advocated for the right for workers to unionize and spoke out against poor working conditions and other exploitative practices. He advocated for a natural wage—one that would pay enough to support and feed families and provide retirement security—focused on human dignity and the common good. But these aren’t just issues of the past. These are issues of today.
The people who produce our food often don’t make enough to feed themselves. How backwards is that? The people that feed our entire country, and in a lot of ways, the world, are not able to eat the food that they produce. The people who produce our food are going hungry because they are not paid a wage that is fair. The people who produce our food work long days in the summer under extreme conditions. The people who produce our food often are out of work after the harvest season. The people who produce our food are exploited.
We could not live without these people. But we don’t even recognize it because their voices are silenced. We don’t recognize it because society teaches us to go to the grocery store and look for the cheapest tomato we can find, unaware of the hands that grew it. We are conditioned to think too much of the convenience of having that tomato to consider the struggles that got it there.
So, what do you do to prove the faith you claim? Take those thoughts, take those words, and act on them. Allow yourself to be ignited by the issues you are passionate about. And advocate for them.