“From a faith perspective, there is that something beyond ourselves that is calling us to reach out and live the Christian practice of love and compassion for all people.” Those were Father Peter’s opening words at our March 2021 Workshop, Be an Agent of Change: Achieve Health Justice. The Workshop, led by Father Peter with guest Chris Nobel from Health Care for All, follows our Community Meeting about disparities in health care.
Nobel began the discussion with an explanation of his approach to health justice:
- Driven by those directly impacted by injustice;
- Responds to the needs of the moment; and
- Grounded in consumer needs, collective action, and solidarity.
“If there is an injustice in one community, it is on all of us to support that community even if it doesn’t impact us. We are only free when all of us are free,” said Nobel.
He placed a great emphasis on solidarity, a concept Father Peter also encourages. This is the idea that we listen to, support, and walk hand in hand with the communities impacted by injustice.
The goal of this Workshop was for attendees to leave the evening with actionable insights they could take back to their communities to continue the fight for health justice. Nobel led a discussion about storytelling, calling it “the greatest tool in our tool chest” and encouraging attendees to tell their stories about injustice to legislators and policymakers so that they understand the emotional toll of injustice.
He invited attendees to share their stories. Attendee Paul O’Connor shared his concerns about access to health care for marginalized communities and Theresa Chaklos shared her experience dealing with health care staff who were not respectful. Nobel pointed out the need for both personal advocacy and structural change in creating a more equitable system.
“The most powerful action of stories is their ability to move others to take action,” said Nobel. “Stories can move people to overcome barriers in ways that statistics cannot.” He provided guidance for attendees about how to effectively tell their stories and where to share them.
Father Peter ended the discussion with a call to action for those in attendance: “Examine your own life, yourself and what you can do to help people in need. It’s important that we live faith in action to help people that are struggling.”