Saturday, 28 March 2015

Asserting Social Justice through reaffirming Faith with action

Asserting Social Justice through reaffirming Faith with action

A view on Pope Francis' Evangelii Gaudium
and its relevance to the present situation

In one of the remarkable remarks this person had heard was a statement condemning Corruption and Capitalism, such as coming from none other than the Pope himself.

With words such as Inequality, Exclusion, and even "trickle-down" theories that makes people wait for long, Pope Francis tends to show a Church that is Militant in asserting Social Justice, different from earlier ones like those of Popes Leo XIII and John Paul II.

In his apostolic exhortation, mistaken to be an encyclical, Pope Francis strongly rebuked Capitalism and at the same time calling for economic reform that somehow cultivates a deeper sense of Social Justice. Like Leo XIII it may a further elaboration of the "Preferential option for the Poor" in which emphasises equal treatment, so was John Paul II in which speaks of the dignity and rights of workers.

But since the current pope speaks stronger than his predecessors, and despite being an Exhortation, he wants more than words but actions, such as a radical reform towards global financial systems that exclude the poor to the benefit of the rich. It may reinterpret as revolution as people assert a true sense of justice different from their respective orders and its attempt to minimise, moderate such radical goal despite recognising preferential treatment.

However, not all institutions, both secular and religious be serious in his statement given that it's an exhortation rather than an encyclical, much more that an encyclical is not even dealt seriously besides "research" and basis for "speeches" of sort. Few institutions within the Catholic faith may seriously adhere and assert the faith be tempered with immediate action given that Christianity speaks not just spiritual growth but also Social Reform.
Worse, there were those whom afforded to counter with a brand of Christianity that appeases the Neoliberal Capitalist. That once, former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher tried to debunk the Church's assertion to Social Justice with her Sermon in the Mound speech, even quoted St. Paul's "If a man will not work he shall not eat", yet there are passages such as Isaiah 61:1, Matthew 10:34, Luke 22:35–38 to debunk Thatcher's attempt to use the word to assert her views as a free trade Capitalist. Remember, St. Paul's quote also Parallel's Marx's: "In each according to ability, in each according to work" as well as "In each according to work, in each according to need."

And come to think of this, since Christianity speaks of Social Justice, then how come those whom assume they are doing social justice merely relegated it to those of charity work instead of immersion? Of mere doleouting than direct participation in rebuilding communities and given dignity? Much more that there are institutions whom Christian and at the same time Capitalist, trying to vent Leonine,  Francisesque or any other Papal-like statements (a la "Mercy and Compassion") yet at the same time justifying yearly increases with sugar coated statements expected, be it inflation rates or half-baked projects, or wages not enough to face rising costs of commodities and services. The poor continues to remain disenfranchised and repressed by its condition such as homelessness, unemployment, and other effects stemmed from a mismanaged development of so-called leaders "benevolent." If the situation remained unaddressed then of what is service to the people then amidst development? Of what is their faith if in practise it fails to readdress and offer a radical alternative to the situation?

"As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation, and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world's problems or, for that matter, to any problems," 

As what the pope said in his Exhortation. He may have recognise the importance of charity, but how about solidarity with the people whom had been unjustly given be it in form of employment with fair wages or affordable education? They don't demand charity, they demand justice given that the profit driven entities been too much profiteering and not considering the people, hence un-Christianlike.

In case of the Dominican-controlled University of Santo Tomas for example, Students from different courses converged, marched in protest against the proposed increase, the reception seemed quite positive given the fact that the yearly increases may done harm than good, of half-baked projects and unallocated funds, if not really profit in its orientation in a supposed "Christian" institution. However, the council, although assuming to be "against the increase" in its statement, did not recognize the said activity given that the organisers were unrecognized groups.

But come to think of this, since St. Thomas Aquinas speaks of a just war, then why not these dissenting students, despite having an unrecognised organisation make a just action against the increase? Not all things can be settled by a mere dialouge that somehow likely to fell on deaf ears as administrators eager to continue such act in the name of profits and to the tune of development trying to sneer studentry through the ear. UST is set to hike tuition by 5%-7.9%, and it had increased tuition annually since 2004 by an average of 75%. Last 2012, the University collected P2.8 billion from tuition fees and P672 million from other school fees, and UST posted a net revenue of P1.4 billion during the same year. No amount of tuition and other school fees increase can be justified besides profit, if . While millions of Filipinos hardly, or worse, can no longer manage to send their children to school, capitalist-educators on the other hand rake billions in profit. The council, which was initially against the increase, end turning back from its commitments as it agrees for a compromise of 3 to 2.5% by the administrators, much likely a slap towards its dissenting constituents.

Pardon his view regarding the issue as an example, but to think that those funds has been full too much due to the increase year after year, such as 2.8 billion pesos last 2012. did it proceed directly to services equally? Or maybe like any other private institution doing trickle down in regards to allocating funds for development and the entire chunk goes to profits and investments? Regardless of the justification, yearly increases will always be yearly increases that affects students from poor backgrounds, scholarships does not guarantee their school life as well, much more that these dissenting students (as shown by the photo above) are asserting education as a right and should be affordable for the needy if not for free.

Remember, here are the words the Pope stated in his Exhortation in regards to the issue of "trickle down development":

"Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting."

In actuality, it can't bring justice the said idea peddled by today's economists, that if there is justice in trickle down then how come sweatshop workers and those from Hacienda Luisita were given wages not enough of their needs? Remember, their apologetics afforded to say  "if a man will not work he shall not eat", and these people worked hard thinking about a fair share to come; but instead of gaining fair share what they sought is an unjust one not fit to feed their families for days if not weeks, not even an overnight pay and savings can suffice problem as its value deemed not enough to purchase a commodity. Again, as what this writer observed, that The Pope's message does not demand mere mercy and compassion that is  also being babbled by an unjust order, but it demands a real, swift justice the way Christ asserted during his life on earth. 

He lived with the poor and the sinned, provide them fishes and loaves equally, healed the sick, and bring redemption to the blamed; he was crucified, died for disobeying the law priests loved to babble much more that he instigated subversion against the oppressing state kings and governors ought to defend; only to resurrect with his message spread throughout the world, be it faith, hope, repentance, salvation, love, solidarity. 

Yet only to found out his message being diluted, and see his belief gone wrong by its "faithful" and be equated with repression and disenfranchisement such as the landed friars of long ago and today's pharisees self-proclaiming to be with the Lord or with the people, but to those whom really seeking man's liberation from misery and an elevation of his personhood to dignity and decency, then the Lord's faith, just like his actions past, demanded more than just saving souls from sin but of bodies from its repressive existence, of making material and spiritual wealth given to many so as to create a worthy living whole. "On earth, as it is in heaven" as what the Lord's prayer says. 

That somehow made the pope exhort strongly about this current situation with the faithful seriously adhere as it asserts against the existing unjust. But it would take years, decades, or even centuries for most to open their eyes and cry, and struggle for salvation not just for themselves as individuals, but also their communities and nations, knowing that God, who is just and compassionate, wills it for their good.