Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Young adults must show mercy in the city

By Kerry Weber

The calls and e-mails arrive with some regularity. Friends in their 20s and early 30s asking me: Can you keep an eye out for any job openings? In many cases, they are looking for work as campus ministers, teachers, social workers or therapists. In every case, they are hoping to find meaningful work, jobs through which they might be men and women for others. If such jobs—finally—come through, there is a moment of celebration before the calls begin again: Do you know of any affordable apartments?

Making ends meet in a place like New York City can be difficult. In a city of 8 million people, it’s all too easy to feel alone. The city’s bright lights, Sunday brunches and celebrity sightings often are accompanied by the worry of making rent or finding safe, suitable housing. And in a city of this size, hundreds of people may apply for any single job opening. For many young people at the start of their careers, it’s all too easy to forget that others are struggling, too, and to focus on beating out the competition rather than showing compassion.

Thankfully, so many people I know, especially those I meet through various young-adult Catholic ministries, take their faith to heart and take solidarity seriously. This not only means looking for work that allows them to serve those in need, but also means supporting fellow young adults in the search of such work. It also includes supporting each other when the work we do to make ends meet is not exactly a dream job. It can take time to find a job that is a good fit and that provides a living wage, and many people must settle for one or the other. In such instances, a supportive community becomes even more important.

Young adults today understand how hard it can be to find and keep a job, and so many of us make an effort to look out for one another throughout that process, and to connect individuals to possible job openings or to connect people with similar interests. We try to be there for one another in times of transition. Years ago, while working at a small-time newspaper in a high-price city, I sought the help of friends who let me crash on their couches when I struggled to make ends meet. Now that I have got a job (and a couch) of my own, I have tried to show that same hospitality to others.

Pope Francis has warned: “Indeed, the unemployed and underemployed risk being relegated to the margins of society, becoming victims of social exclusion.” We must work to avoid such marginalization. We must open our hearts, and perhaps even our homes, to those who are in times of transition, to those who are looking for work and trying to make ends meet. In answering their calls for support, we also answer the Gospel call to love, justice, and inclusion.


Kerry Weber is the author of Mercy in the City and Managing Editor of America Magazine. 

Read Archbishop Wenski's 2014 Labor Day Statement.

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