The Pandemic: Stirring our wounds and our longing for healing
Solidarity in a COVID-19 world” is the theme of Canadian Jesuits International’s (CJI) 2021 Fall campaign. CJI has launched this campaign to support its Jesuit partners in Africa, Asia and Latin A“merica who accompany poor and marginalized communities and to foster just relations between the Global North and South. This is the second of a series of three blogs submitted by CJI and its overseas partners to explore this theme. To learn more, please visit: canadianjesuitsinternational.ca
COVID-19 turned our lives upside down. In Honduras, it also reminded us that we have seen so many people dying unnecessarily for so many years now that we seem to have become accustomed to death. Even in the midst of the pandemic, we still hear news of massacres and missing persons.
We are not sure whether there are more deaths from the Coronavirus or from violence. For years now, in Honduras, death due to violence ceased to be a rare occurrence and has become a horrific part of daily life.
The specter of death looms large over Honduras like an uninvited guest at a dinner table. Now, the pandemic has come to join it and is here to stay. The sorrow that has taken root in our society, coupled with fear of a new threat, is a constant presence in the hearts of those of us who live in this tormented country.
Honduras suffers from unresolved grief. We carry so much pain, anguish and fear that it is not humanly possible to process it. This has been compounded by the stringent protocols required to control the pandemic, which have led to further isolation and the inability to mourn together.
In a society drained of life and battered by grief and mistrust, it is no longer enough to restore public institutions and make them credible; it is no longer enough to change governments, or to fight against corruption, impunity, drug trafficking and crime. Electoral reform that guarantees fair elections is important. We want a society that through fair elections, regains trust and eliminates the impunity that reigns unabated.
Yet, the greatest investment we need to make as a society is to heal the people who make up its social fabric. We are a wounded people and our hearts continue to bleed. A wounded heart often responds by inflicting new wounds on those around us. It is in in these wounds where we find the source of our dysfunction. In order to heal, we must tend to all our wounds, especially those that are at the centre of the human heart.
Honduran society needs to break with institutionalized violence, corruption and impunity. It will also need a long period of complex healing of its broken parts, and then perhaps an even longer period of rehabilitation to learn to live life without the weight of our past traumas; to see it with new eyes as fragile, but healthy human beings. If we are not healed completely, if we continue to feel the scars of the deep wounds of our accumulated sorrow, Honduran society will not be able to experience new horizons. In addition to working for institutional and economic changes and social justice, we need to also rebuild our society, which is burdened by pain of old wounds that have never healed.
Faced with the pandemic and its aftermath, Honduran society needs to address two enormous challenges at the same time: 1) building new institutions that break with the “every person for themselves ” way of thinking, with corruption, impunity and a justice system that benefits the “chosen few”; 2) weaving together the broken fabrics of society and healing the wounds in its heart, especially for the people who have borne the brunt of injustice, exclusion, oppression, marginalization and inequality.
The struggle against corruption, impunity, inequality and extractive projects that violate human rights as well as the development of alternatives to neoliberalism is of primary importance. It is as valuable, important and necessary as is the human, psychological and spiritual effort to accompany women, young people, children and the adults threatened by the virus of discrimination. They are two separate wings which our society needs to take flight. With a single wing, a bird is doomed and will never get off the ground.
In addressing these challenges, we acknowledge the support given by organizations like Canadian Jesuits Internationn (CJI). Our Jesuit apostolates in Honduras have established a relationship of cooperation, and above all, of solidarity, closeness, and friendship with CJI. We have grown in trust and in a common vision of commitment to social justice and the world of the poor. CJI is a true companion from the Global North that embraces us and walks with us. We have broken the vertical relationship of cooperation and have established a horizontal relationship of fraternity.