The fundamental norm of social living is love of neighbor. The core mandate of love of neighbor is service to the poor. And the most immediate imperative of service to the poor is to give them food when hungry, to provide them with medicine when sick, shelter them when homeless and to clothe them when they have nothing to wear.
But the most important and also most difficult service to the poor is to study and know who and what precisely make them poor, to speak and act so that the human and structural cause of their poverty will be eventually dislodged and dismantled.
It is not only hard but also dangerous to confront the agents of poverty, to tear down the structures of social misery. The reason behind this hazardous venture is the truth that the principals for the odious social situation are addicted to power. On the other hand, the structures involved are their convenient instruments to promote social injustice that eventually impoverishes people.
That is why many people of good will limit themselves to simply helping the poor with food, medicine and clothing. This is safe as well as convenient. They do not dare confront the agents of poverty in the country, the structural cause of the misery of people. There is clear and imminent danger in this agenda.
But when people are cheated, deceived, exploited and others do not speak out to denounce their cheaters, deceivers and exploiters, is this serving the poor? When people are used and abused, and others do not act against their users and abusers, is this serving the poor?
The Philippines is rich in so many things, in so many ways. Why are majority of the people precisely poor? The Filipinos are industrious and parsimonious, why are they mostly wanting even in their basic necessities? There is no need to think much to be able to answer these questions. It is a glaring truth in the country that the government is much preoccupied in saving itself, not in serving the citizens.
There are many things fundamentally wrong in the country. One of them is precisely the dependence of the poor in charity, not in justice. This is a pitiful reality!
15 July 2006