On October 17th, Don Oscar was due to speak at the National Palace of Culture in Guatemala. Speaking publicly to a large crowd, especially a crowd of “important people”, is intimidating for someone from a background of poverty, but so is speaking on behalf of other families from different countries and cultures whose lives, like yours, are shaped by difficult, unrecognised, and poorly paid work. It’s daunting to represent everyone who struggles to make a living and provide security for their family – people like you who desperately want their children to get a good education and have a better future. Suddenly, someone asks Don Oscar, “If you could speak to the whole world, what would you say”? Without hesitating, Don Oscar answered,e “I would tell people with money that it’s important to share your jobs. I’d say that you can trust us because we know how to work hard. We just want to work and earn a dignified living”. This is the message Don Oscar really wants people to hear!
. This Letter also talks about the ways people in poverty are prevented from sharing what they want to say and what they know. You can read Sebastian’s true story about violence that Brazil’s indigenous people have suffered. The violence of bullets at a government protest can be deadly. But there is also violence in erasing an entire people’s history, something that happens frequently to families in extreme poverty. For example, when parents can’t tell their children how they struggled against poverty and humiliation, something vital is lost. This is the strength of Annie’s testimony, this mother who says, “Certainly, we have nothing, but we can pass on something“.
This is the strength of Annie’s testimony, a mother who says, “Of course, we have nothing, but we can pass on something.” It’s like an echo of the social philosophy seminar (a 3-year project involving people with experience of poverty, university philosophers and practitioners with knowledge of action). The work identified a form of injustice called “the injustice of transmission.” This occurs when it is impossible to share one’s struggles and hopes with subsequent generations, for example, when children are placed into care.. If others do not consider a family’s experience or knowledge to be legitimate or worthy of being passed on, they eliminate part of history. In addition, this loss prevents the next generation from developing a sense of identity, a key element in building a world without extreme poverty.
The contributors to this Letter demonstrate a common desire to make the world a more open, healthy, and joyful place. Each individual carries within themselves something uniquely important to say. Everyone has their own distinct way of caring for the world and all its inhabitants. Sadly, many do not have the peace needed to express their perspective and understanding. However, it is important to remember that each individual has their own sensibility, perceptions, and dignity. People living in extreme poverty, especially, have valuable insights – irreplaceable lessons for our understanding of humanity. It is vital that we listen to those in poverty and allow them to share their special wisdom with the world.
Deputy Director, International Movement ATD Fourth World
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