In homage to Mother Teresa of Calcutta, September 5, International Day of Charity created by the UN, places mutual aid and altruism at the forefront. Poverty is often presented through a distorting prism which can lead us to believe that it mainly affects only a fragile and deprived category of population. The reality is quite different and the current pandemic invites us today to change our vision because precariousness concerns all generations.
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The day of charity gives us a new perspective on people in difficulty. Faced with the suffering experienced, attention without a priori, marked by compassion. Faced with the courage to ask for and accept help, a feeling of respect. This change of outlook should encourage us to live in solidarity and make us think about our commitment.
Today, even more than yesterday, loneliness touches all generations without exception. The periods of confinement have prevented so many people from meeting to help each other, to feel heard or simply to share their daily lives: isolated student, distant elderly, migrant on their own, homeless person. Loneliness deteriorates mental health, and the line between loneliness and poverty is sometimes thin.
Neuroscientist Matthew Lieberman, author of the book Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect shows that the social bond has become a fundamental need, just like eating or drinking. It is therefore essential to be attentive to the people around us, to identify lonely people and to bring them listening and human warmth.
Personal development, posited as a principle of life, and the frenzied individualism of our Western societies have increased the indifference of our social relations. Changing your gaze consists of no longer passing near a person begging in the street without stopping. Let’s take a few moments to exchange a word of encouragement with her and show empathy. Listening to others allows you to build an open relationship to better understand them in their distress.
The excluded are always difficult to meet, whether desocialized, foreign, of another religion or the prey of addictions. Accepting this other who is different from me is already a first step towards meeting. Changing our outlook in the face of exclusion means acting with fraternity. It is to adopt the policy of the outstretched hand towards the one who closes. A look and a smile can transcend the differences and allow a first contact. It is not a question of resolving sometimes dramatic situations and of “thinking about efficiency” but of living these small moments of grace which brighten up a day.
→ MAINTENANCE. “Rediscovering the pleasure of social relations requires a completely restored confidence”
If our country is one of those which redistributes the most, and if recent social assistance spending has made it possible to contain the poverty linked to the pandemic, precariousness remains fundamentally present. Housing difficulties are the cause of a large number of them. The emergency accommodation structures are very insufficient. It is a permanent challenge for associations, which are not always prepared to respond to this type of difficulty.
Housing a fragile person in a pleasant place, even for a few hours, will be an opportunity for them to rest, to recharge their batteries and to benefit from appropriate support. This is what solidarity cafes or day centers offer by offering time for oneself, to read, eat, wash or simply exchange peacefully.
The accompaniment of a person weakened by life brings richness in return and it is touching to see to what extent the volunteers feel indebted for what they receive. Let’s take the time to meet the other, to smile at him, whether in the street or in his home. Let us take the time to listen to it, to go beyond the differences.
Each year, the day of charity is an opportunity for everyone to give meaning to their own commitment, current or future. To take one more step towards a Fraternity which is so dear to us.