169. In some closed and monochrome economic approaches, for example, there seems to be no place for popular movements that unite the unemployed, temporary and informal workers and many others who do not easily find a place in existing structures.
There certainly are not. Sharing power with the 99% is a difficult thing indeed. I think feudalism has maintained itself in many work environments of today. Speaking up means banishment, since we can’t have corporal punishment in the workplace.
Yet those movements manage various forms of popular economy and of community production. What is needed is a model of social, political and economic participation “that can include popular movements and invigorate local, national and international governing structures with that torrent of moral energy that springs from including the excluded in the building of a common destiny”, while also ensuring that “these experiences of solidarity which grow up from below, from the subsoil of the planet – can come together, be more coordinated, keep on meeting one another”. [Address to Participants in the World Meeting of Popular Movements(28 October 2014): AAS106 (2014), 858]
I remember some nervousness on the part of a priest friend when I suggested lay ministers in the diocese might gather to discuss some of our concerns about our parish workplaces and the support we were getting (or not) from the bishop. He needn’t have worried. Many of my colleagues in ministry run scared. But Pope Francis is right: experiences of solidarity help build up people, help us realize our gifts and what we can contribute, and to support one another in reflection and action.
More from the Holy Father:
This, however, must happen in a way that will not betray their distinctive way of acting as “sowers of change, promoters of a process involving millions of actions, great and small, creatively intertwined like words in a poem”. [Address to Participants in the World Meeting of Popular Movements (5 November 2016): L’Osservatore Romano, 7-8 November 2016, pp. 4-5] In that sense, such movements are “social poets” that, in their own way, work, propose, promote and liberate. They help make possible an integral human development that goes beyond “the idea of social policies being a policy for the poor, but never with the poor and never of the poor, much less part of a project that reunites peoples”. [Ibid.]
This is certainly a key observation. Do activists do things for other people or with them?
They may be troublesome, and certain “theorists” may find it hard to classify them, yet we must find the courage to acknowledge that, without them, “democracy atrophies, turns into a mere word, a formality; it loses its representative character and becomes disembodied, since it leaves out the people in their daily struggle for dignity, in the building of their future”. [Ibid.]
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