Mike On Purpose

Finding purpose in the twenty-first century

Rick Steves celebrates Christmas in Nicaragua

Posted by mikeonpurpose on December 31, 2010

Rick Steves has posted to his blog a description of his celebration of Christmas mass in Managua, Nicaragua.  Of course, I found this interesting because I have recently traveled to Nicaragua, but I also appreciated the sentiment that infused his posting.  Steves is most famous for his books and TV shows about travel to Europe, but it seems to me that he has lately been taking up the cause of travel as expression of social justice, which inevitably takes him to places much more impoverished than Europe.

I especially appreciated his discussion of meeting with Fernando Cardenal, who incorporated social justice teachings into his vision of Christianity.  As Rick Steves put it, “Christians are to be more than charitable. They are to ask why there is poverty and to organize to work for economic justice and dignity in the face of hunger and suffering.”

Whether one is a Christian or not, I think this is a good thing to remember.  Volunteering abroad is not a solution to the problem of poverty.  It is necessary that we do what we can to help others, of course,and that is what inspires us to volunteer; but I think it is important to never stop “asking why”, and working to change the root causes of poverty and injustice.  As the Brazilian Catholic Archbishop Hélder Camara famously once said, “When I gave food to the poor, they called me a saint. When I asked why the poor were hungry, they called me a communist.”


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