My Catholic faith is central to my life and the way I perceive the world, but I was not expecting to so explicitly engage my faith when I joined the Video for Social Change class or began working on my video project. I produced a video on a bible study curriculum developed by Durham Congregations in Action called, “A Fair Balance.” It draws the connection between Christian faith and economic circumstances, which I have not spent much time contemplating prior to this semester. As I conducted interviews and studied the program curriculum, I reflected on the specific aspects of my personal faith and how I can apply this to worker’s rights and fair wages in the current economy.
The foundation of my Catholic faith is love. I believe in the power, beauty, and necessity of love. If viewing through a lens of love, one can see several places where love is absent or weak in our economic system. Many of the low-wage workers we encountered this semester are not treated with the love, respect, or human dignity that they deserve. Most agree, religious or not, that we all share a common humanity. I would articulate this more clearly by saying that we are all children of God deserving of His love and mercy. Not only are many individuals in low-wage jobs treated with little compassion, they have a harder time loving their families and the people they serve due to their work circumstances.
A close friend posted the article, “Fastfood Workers: You don’t deserve $15/hour to flip burgers and that’s ok” on facebook recently. I was unsettled by the love absent from the author’s perspective. I will honestly admit that I have shared similar perspectives in the past, but I do not believe such a perspective is possible if our ultimate goal is to love the people around us. We separate faith and success, faith and money, and faith and status, but faith and love is truly a lens through which we see the world or an internal engine that should affect the actions, thoughts, and perspectives in every area of our lives.
Without love, we are self-interested, prideful, and fearful. We want to get as much as we can. Whatever we gather is rightfully ours. Without love, I idolize recognition, importance, and reward as the most important. My faith calls me to give however- to share love freely with others. What would the workplace and the economic state look like if we saw through a loving lens? What would our wage be set at if we had the best interests of our employees in mind? Instead of fighting for our spotlight, what if we were trying to help people up? There’s a dynamic of symbiotic cooperation required. The above article’s tone is “I worked hard to get where I am, so you should have to also,” but I propose that the loving perspective would be “I worked hard to get myself to a place of stability and security, and I would love for you to experience this as well.”
Working on the video for “A Fair Balance” was a powerful reminder to me that love should invade all aspects of our lives, and I think many that may not claim religious beliefs can similarly ponder this point. What is love’s place in the business world? What causes us to withhold love? I would encourage us all to view workers through a lens of love. You may find you see things differently that way.