photo of Larry Snyder, President of Catholic Charities USA

Turn! Turn! Turn!

This week marked one of the few times when people around the world act in concert: we turned the pages of our calendars to a New Year.

At the beginning of each New Year, we look at the clean slate before us, and we make resolutions:  to lose weight… to save money… to exercise… to become better people.  We take comfort in knowing that change is not only possible, it is probable.   We believe we can turn our lives around.

In the 1960’s, a generation believed they could turn around the direction of the nation. Pete Seeger captured this spirit by turning some verses from the book of Ecclesiastes into “Turn! Turn! Turn!,” a song that became an anthem for peace and tolerance.  It was sung then by a variety of artists, from Seeger and Judy Collins to The Byrds, and more recently by Bruce Springsteen and Roger McGuinn.

When I think about the 46 million Americans who were living in poverty at the end of 2011, with whom we work every day, I think of “Turn! Turn! Turn!” because each of them wants to turn the circumstances of their lives around.

As our nation struggles to turn the economy around, “Turn! Turn! Turn!” can once again be our anthem.

The lyrics tell us there is a time for every purpose under heaven.  Here’s what I think:

It is time to for us to find our common faith and heal our differences.

It is time for generous hearts.

It is time for a new generation to work together for the benefit of the common good.

It is time to recognize that buried deep within each human being is the image and likeness of God, including those who are marginalized.

It is time to turn our priorities around.

We can be better. We can make a difference.

I swear it’s not too late.