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Waiting for Whitewater’s Dorothy Day

Whitewater has many needs, but fulfilling them requires setting aside the city’s longstanding addiction to press releases, public relations, ‘messaging,’ etc. That approach is both ineffectual and proud (where pride is a sin).

Worse still is the irreparably conflicted role of politician and reporter, a government intrusion into civil society, a bad habit of Old Whitewater that has grown worse this year. That toxic potion offers no good, and much that is bad. Better nothing than the wrong thing: first do no harm.

What, instead, for Whitewater?

Writing in reply to a comment from early August, this prescription seemed in order:

Politicians, appointed officials, business lobbyists, Old Whitewater’s thinning ranks of self-promoters, or commuters who hold sway only part of the day — we need more than that. It’s good to have people who speak or write, as I do, but that’s not enough, either.

Whitewater needs her own version of Dorothy Day – someone committed to a lifetime of charitable work on behalf of this community without flinching or favoritism. Someone here, who will hold fast come what may, unyielding, beginning and ending each day in the place of her devoted efforts.

We don’t have that yet, at least not anyone so admirably fierce as Day was. I’ll never stop hoping.

Needless to say, Dorothy Day’s economic proposals would not be mine; her orthodox Catholicism would not be my Protestantism.

And yet, and yet, she will be forever admirable – and was one of America’s towering figures of the twentieth century – because she was rightly and sincerely committed to the disadvantaged, steadfastly so.

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9 days ago

Marquette University has archived the papers of Dorothy Day and other records of the Catholic Worker movement since 1962. Inquiries are welcome!