After three months of intensive relief operation, Vincent Helps in Philippines now seeks and moves to serve the most vulnerable groups. They are not only oppressed; they are not only impoverished; they are totally excluded by the system that produced and continually reproduces them. They have no addresses, no identification cards, no names in the barangay list, not eligible for assistance and social services, etc. For this society, they do not exist. They are nobodies.
Now that people have some mobility and can go to work in limited capacities (GCQ), there will be always people who remain excluded. They are suffering the same hunger and pain as they did during the total lockdown (ECQ) – street people, the sick, the elderly, those living under bridges, those who have no homes, etc. But even before the COVID-19 crisis, these same people at the margins have always felt the same hunger and pain. If it is difficult for many of us to economically recover, it is all the more difficult, almost impossible, for all of them.
Every institution, every social arrangement tends to exclude, marginalize, and push the weak to the peripheries. Every system because it is a system produces its waste. In the present economic system, these “wastes” are people — with their beautiful stories, with their visions and dreams of the future, with their hopes and concrete plans for their lives. But because society has excluded them, those hopes dimmed, those dreams die. They were turned into waste, and like all wastes, are thrown away. The great sociologist Zygmunt Bauman calls them “the waste of capital”.
“Tragically, in our own time, even as ostentatious wealth accumulates in the hands of the privileged few, often in connection with illegal activities and the appalling exploitation of human dignity, there is a scandalous growth of poverty in broad sectors of society throughout our world. Faced with this scenario, we cannot remain passive, much less resigned. . . . To all these forms of poverty we must respond with a new vision of life and society.” (Pope Francis, First World Day of the Poor, 11/19/17)
There is so much work to do for all of us. Follow and support us at Vincent Helps.
Originally posted in Facebook by: Fr. Daniel E. Pilario, CM