"If one members suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it."
1 Corinthians 12:26
“When one suffers, we all suffer.”
sums up the meaning of this principle of Catholic Social Teaching in this one line. We are not a society of individuals separate and distinct from each other, we are a community of humankind. None of us can claim success in life if there is at least one person who suffers. It is likened to a team that loses a game. No player can celebrate a personal victory if the team has lost. All the players suffer the same fate as the team - together. St. Paul
While there is poverty in the world, we cannot claim success for the society of humankind. Where there is oppression in the world we cannot claim to be truly free. Where there is hunger and thirst we cannot claim to be satisfied.
The suffering of people in the world is our suffering too, and their welfare our responsibility. We are called to speak and act on behalf of those who cannot do so for themselves. It is our right and responsibility to take on their fight for dignity, freedom, self-determination, and life itself. We must speak out for those who are oppressed and disenfranchised, abused by their governments and others, maimed, murdered, starved, raped, marginalized or displaced by war, famine, disease or natural disaster.
We can do this not only through donations to relief organizations like Catholic Charities, but also through political power by raising the awareness of others and bringing the plight of the suffering to the world arena; exerting pressure on governments to take proper care and responsibility for the basic rights of their people, asking our own politicians to speak and act on behalf of the common good of all humankind.