Individualism too often defines our current social and political moment in the United States. It contributes to polarization, civic disengagement, and general apathy, and it has contributed to the weakening of democratic processes and norms. Especially after the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ideals of collective striving, solidarity, and responsibility for our neighbors seem to be receding from public life. This pandemic, Pope Francis has said, “unmasked the other pandemic, the virus of indifference, which is the result of constantly looking away.”
The culture in many Latino communities resists this slip into individualism. Households are often intergenerational and family is paramount; obligations to neighbors and others in close communities are central, and many times, solidarity is born out of shared joys and difficulties. Can these attitudes, norms, and practices offer a model for communities that haven’t yet recovered from years of isolation?
This gathering had three parts:
6:00 - 7:00 p.m. | Welcoming Happy Hour
Meet and network with other young Latinos over food and drink
7:00 - 8:00 p.m. | Latino Leader Gathering
A dialogue and conversation on “Strengthening Community and Resisting Individualism: Challenges for Young Latinos and Contributions from Latino Culture” with three leaders
8:00 - 9:00 p.m. | Reception
Continue the conversation over food and drink
The participants answered questions such as:
- What is the relationship between indifference and individualism? How do they affect our social bonds?
- How can Latinos, especially young Latinos, play an active role in resisting individualism, both formally and informally?
How can a more communal cultural experience inform our experience and practice of faith? How does it draw from and express the principles of Catholic social teaching?
How can we expand our understanding of social responsibility? What are some concrete actions and social conventions in Latino communities that reflect this?
Beyond simply building community, how do we go about diversifying our communities and the kinds of people to which we are bound within them? What is the value of this diversification?
How do we harness the solidarity we’ve already developed in certain parts of society (the re-emerging labor movement, informal and formal networks of mutual aid, etc.) and strengthen and expand it into the places where it’s lacking?
Christian Soenen, projects manager of the Initiative, moderated the conversation.
You can view resources for this dialogue here.
This Latino Leader Gathering was for young Latino Catholics and others to explore key issues and personal stories involving faith and public life with distinguished Latinos and other leaders.