By Sister Cynthia Serjak

Sister Cynthia wrote this blog post after reflecting further on her piece, We Are Not Powerless in this Testing Time, that appeared on the Connect with Mercy blog on June 12. 

As I have continued to reflect about the powerlessness that many of us are experiencing during this time of Covid-19, I have come to a painful awareness of the reality that while for some of us this is a new experience, for many of us, powerlessness is part of daily life. As a white person in this country, I take for granted my ability to move about freely, to go where and when I want, and with whom, without having to worry for my life, or about comments that might be made to me, or situations that would make me uncomfortable.

Having to experience sudden powerlessness is new to many of us and we are embarrassed to find how little we understand of what daily doses of that would mean. We can only begin to realize how constant powerlessness wears you down, shapes your self-esteem and infects any sense of hope that you might muster. The experience of the pandemic can be an awakening to how some people live all the time. It can increase the urgency of our activism and deepen our understanding of how our unconscious attitudes hold us back from being better people and better citizens.

So, while I still experience the powerlessness against the virus, I can choose to recognize my discomfort and allow it to urge me into opportunity—the opportunity to understand just a small part of what others experience all the time, and the opportunity to speak about that understanding. I can choose to keep my eyes open and focused rather than turning away. I can choose to listen to my own reactions rather than show impatience and frustration. I can choose to put myself in places where I will hear more about ongoing, systemic abuses of power, and I can learn from what I see and hear.

I can allow myself to be changed and then to become the change.