day2.jpg“It is by little and by little that we are saved.” That’s a line from Dorothy Day, my personal hero and our family saint. She believed in doing the work of God through one person at a time, yet never lost sight of the larger systemmic issues which needed to change.

Like us, she lived in times of crisis – World War I, the Spanish-American war, World War II, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam . . . there was plenty to be afraid of, plenty of reason to worry.

Yet she never gave in to fear.

In the fifties, during the Cold War, Americans were ordered to descend into underground shelters as preparation for the nuclear attack the US government was convinced was coming. Dorothy, along with many other pacifist friends, was arrested for refusing to obey the orders.  “Peace is our only defense,” was her argument.

“And if you want peace,” she continued, “Work for justice.”

I have been thinking a lot about her these days. The terrible events in Mumbai have shaken us all badly. Fear and anxiety now seem to have an almost physical presence in our lives as we make plans and consider the future.


A friend of mine who lives there, just a stone’s throw from the Taj, said she has been filled with a sense of despair and futility, wondering what is the point of all her work for children. It reminds me of the famous poem by W B Yeats:

Things fall apart,
The center cannot hold,
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world  . . .
The best lack all conviction
While the worst are full of passionate intensity.

In such dreadful times, it is easy to forget how important it is to hold on to our convictions, to continue doing what we do. Indeed, there is nothing else we can do.

More and more, I am convinced that the world will be saved by the small acts of love, kindness and grace so many of us are engaged in.

I find strength and hope in the wonderful work going on throughout India – there are miracles taking place in every corner of this amazing country: people working to provide clean water, health care, education, therapy, livelihoods . . . you name it, somewhere, someone is on the job.

If you want peace, work for justice. As Dorothy believed, it all adds up, by little and by little. We will tip the balance.

Showing 4 comments
  • Aarti

    Dear Jo,

    In all this despair it is so soothing to read what you have written.I wish more people would read this.


  • Dan Schneider

    Hi Jo,

    One of the most important things we have is the power of our imagination. Imagine what the world can be and then set out to make it happen. I think your imagination is working.

    all the best,
    Dan Schneider

  • Shea Vizak

    So simple and yet so hard, and bang on as always.

    Arundhati Roy expresses a similar sentiment in her Guardian op-ed (think it was Cuthleen who posted the link).

    Couldnt you put this in the papers? Its EXACTLY what well-meaning but hysterical people (such as myself) need to read and know.


  • Urmil Arora

    It is so sad that in the name of religion some people love to kill others than learn to love. It is indeed the small acts of love done by a lot of people will keep us going.

    Even if you put any simple and correct idea anywhere (newspaper, magazines, or weekly newsletter etc., it only touches the heart of people who want to feel it. For others, it remains invisible.

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