In response to frustration over the government’s handling of an issue of social policy, someone I know recently sent an e-mail to a group of people that included me, that read, “Hopelessness is the only practical response in the face of [the handling of the issue that upset the writer].” I’ve thought about the e-mail a number of times in recent weeks, as I’ve watched the public, Church officials and legislators talk about health care reform.

Discouragement is something I understand. One looks around at so many big problems like that one and the seeming inability of our society to reach any sort of consensus about how to fix them. As an individual, one watches all of this and wonders how it is possible to have any impact on problems so big and so complicated. It is hard not to get a bit discouraged.

Some people may view hopelessness as “the only practical response,” but hopelessness is never an acceptable response for Christians. We are called to transform the world to Kingdom. To work to create a just society which recognizes the dignity of every human person. To build a civilization of love. As Christians, as disiples of Christ, we don’t get to throw up our hands and opt out because problems are big and solutions are hard.

In the words of Dorothy Day, “No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There’s too much work to do.”