“…why the things are what they are, how the things would be if they were as they should be, and how a path can be made from the things as they are to the things as they should be.”
These are the words of Peter Maurin who, along with Dorothy Day, cofounded the Catholic Worker Movement. Now 85 years later, the movement that started with a small paper that called for non-violence, voluntary poverty, and hospitality for the homeless, exiled, hungry, and forsaken has 240 communities that remain committed to these principles.
Brian Terrel recently addressed the National Catholic Worker Farm Gathering, and recalling the revolutionary spirit of Peter Maurin he had this to say:
For many of us, too, solidarity work and travel to places exploited by economic and other kinds of colonialism brought us to see that Peter was right when he pointedly insisted that issues of war and peace always are, at the heart, issues of the land and its use. In New York City or Los Angeles as in Jerusalem or Mexico City or San Salvador, the peace and good order of society requires justice on the land. It strikes us, finally, that even the food that we serve on our soup lines that is donated or gleaned from dumpsters depends on slave labor and is grown in ways that cannot be sustained. When the peace for which we yearn and struggle finally comes and our global neighbors will no longer be forced by debt and oppression to clothe and feed us but will use their own labor, land and water to care for themselves, how then will we live?
The vision of the Catholic Worker Movement parallels much of the aspirations of today’s new agrarians, as we seek ways to work with the land, minimizing our reliance on asymmetric power dynamics of a global world.