Welcome   |   Login   |   Sign Up   |

Welfare & Subsidiarity

At the Heart of Subsidiarity: Men Who Still Desire Great Things

Subsidiarity is not so much a political or institutional principle, but a phenomenon seen in the inception and growth of initiatives from the “bottom up,” that has proved itself over the course of centuries in every imaginable type of work responding to the needs of the collective whole  

Photo FotoliaPhoto Fotolia

The crisis, which has struck Western societies in the last year and a half and forced decision makers of the affected countries to rethink the mechanisms regulating economic and financial systems, should be viewed not only as a result of incorrect or fraudulent accounting techniques, but as an expression of a reduced conception of man and of work. A reduced man no longer feels compelled to "desire great things"—as can be seen in the exhibition titled “A job for everyone. Everyone to his task. Within the crisis, beyond the crisis.”, displayed at the Rimini Meeting taking place in Italy this week.

Somewhere along the line we have lost the idea that the creative capacity to transform reality and the desire to build and to better the conditions for individuals, families, and localities are rooted in human nature. We have also lost the idea that, contrary to what a certain school of socio-economics might say, the willingness for a new “undertaking” is directly proportional to the depth with which a man lives his human nature, which is made up of the desire for justice, truth, and beauty, and to the degree to which this desire is educated in the social, local, and academic realms in which a person finds himself.

The current crisis offers us a great opportunity to recover this dimension, as well as to rediscover the fundamentally relational nature of human beings, while at the same time addressing certain social problems made more acute by the crisis, mostly problems that affect especially the most vulnerable populations.

As concluded in the recent study “Food Poverty in Italy,” the root cause of poverty is isolation: the loosening of family ties and the thinning out of the network of friendships and memberships that have and still make up the social fabric and our “welfare society”. Anything that destroys this natural and historical system becomes a factor causing inequality. Today poverty can suddenly strike anyone who has an individual who is chronically ill in their household; who loses his job at 50 because of a sudden company crisis; anyone who, without an adequate pension, finds himself elderly with no relatives to support him; or who undergoes a marital separation and cannot sustain him or herself alone.

Thus, the critical issue in the fight against poverty is the education of the poor to rebuild ties and to take initiative for their own situations. Among the variety of social initiatives, non-profit organizations are those which tend most naturally to favor the interweaving of relationships among men and women. They help those in most need to judge their personal situation and all of reality in a new and different way. Those who line up at the doors of these entities everyday to ask for help naturally establish a trusting relationship with those who provide that help with no ulterior motives.