Reflections on Our Society – Ed O’Rourke

I invite you to see reflections from Joe Zarantanello.  He and Pam run a retreat center near Bardstown, Kentucky.  As you can guess, the retreat center is inactive now.

In the early 1970s, he and I were teachers at St Thomas High School in Houston.



Toto, I have the feeling that we’re notin Kansas anymore! 

Some people without brains do an awful lot of talking…Don’t they?


Just as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz was thrown into a whole other world by a force beyond her control, so too are we facing a similar situation. Tornado or virus? Not a great choice. But there’s no hope until we realize, like Dorothy, “that we’re not in Kansas anymore!” What we used to call normal, well, that’s been swept away — and God only knows what comes next.

 And there’s a good chance that things will never get back to normal. And that might be a good thing. I mean, sure I miss hugging my kids and grand kids, but do you really want to go back to a world where millions of our citizens have no health care whatsoever? Or to an economy that will not guarantee a living wage to all the front-line folks who our politicians call heroes?

 If grocery store stockers and checkers are heroes — and I think they are — then why don’t we pay them a living wage? The same goes for transit workers and truckers and field hands and farmers and Amazon workers. I guess, praise is cheaper than an honest wage.

 And do we really want to go back to the normal of being criminally unprepared to protect our doctors, nurses and hospital staffs? The trouble with normal is it always get worse… when the abnormal happens. When the impossible happens. And have you begun to notice that the “impossible” keeps happening with an increasing frequency?

Do we really want to go back to an economy that pretends wealth is “light on a screen?” Notice how quickly all that “wealth” disappeared! Wall Street, and the Dow Jones, is not the same as a strong, functioning economy.

When World War II hit, the American workforce transformed factories that were making spark plugs into factories that made guns, tanks and bombers. In fact, one factory built by the Ford Motor Company in Ypsilanti, Michigan produced a complete B-24 bomber in 61 minutes!

Let that sink in— a B-24 bomber in an hour! But now, we can’t even make enough masks, gloves or ventilators to protect our doctors, nurses or critical patients. Personally, I don’t want to go back to that “normal.”

At the end of The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy discovers she can go back home to Kansas just by clicking her ruby slippers and chanting, “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.” And she magically wakes up in her bedroom in Kansas. The whole movie is about “waking up” to what we already have — and this Covid-19 crisis is similar.

May we wake up to all the good things that we already have in our home, family, community, country and in our precious planet. It’s really true that “You don’t know what you have ’til you lose it.” So I pray that all of us that can — stay healthy at home for now. And for all the folks on the front lines helping to feed and heal this nation, I say, “Thank you for your service — and for your courage!”

No, we’re not in Kansas anymore, folks, but we do have a great opportunity to become a country that decides that it values the lives of its people more than it values profit. Is the business of America really just business — or is our home (of the brave) really where our Heart is?

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