By TP Davy OP | Saturday, August 25, 1962
Poverty and Plenty
Those who read are aware of the vast difference which exists in the standard of living enjoyed by people in various countries of the world. The territory of Trinidad and Tobago is often spoken of as a microcosm – a world in miniature. It is important that one should be aware of the variation which exists here between the reasonable comfort enjoyed by some – not to speak of the luxury enjoyed by a few – and the abject poverty of so many. This is all part of what might be termed The Social Problem. It will be the workshop of the Economic Planning Unit and Community Development for years to come.
The Common Good
The government of the country has the duty of fostering and promoting the common good. It will succeed or fail to a greater or less extent according as each individual in the community shoulders or refuses to acknowledge his obligation in this regard. This means YOU and ME.
What is Involved?
Translated into the language of the twentieth century the common good demands many things of the people of a country. It requires that employment be provided for as many people as possible. It does not countenance the emergence of privileged classes even among the workers. The balance between wages and prices should be kept and goods and services of high quality should be made available to the highest possible number. Effort to check or eliminate the inequalities between agriculture, manufacturing and services must be made. The balance between economic expansion and the provision of needed public services must be maintained. Adjustments of the means of production must be adjusted as far as feasible to the advance of science and technology. Any improvement in the standard of living should bear in mind the requirements of future generations.
This is the responsibility which YOU and I must recognise.
You and I
You are a man or woman who became a Christian through Baptism: I am a man, a Christian, a Catholic priest who will save my soul by assisting you to develop the divine life in yours especially through the administration of the sacraments. You will save yours by living up to the duties of your life as a husband or wife, father or mother, bachelor or spinster, lay or religious. In all cases the work involved in the performance of one’s duty in life will serve as a sanctification.
Both you and I live in the same world, but you are more involved with the things of the world. You earn your living through working with material things. You can therefore do more to see that material things are made to serve the interests of man – all men and not the selfish interest of a few.
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God…Thou shalt love they neighbor as thyself” is the teaching of Christ. Christianity has not failed. It is true alas that Christians have failed.
Principles and Practice
Many people are aware of the obligations of their religion with respect to their personal holiness. They understand their duties as individuals, as members of a family, as parents. But even people who are otherwise good and who might be termed “deeply religious” fail utterly when there is question of social obligations (duties towards employers, employees and other sectors of the community). If they are aware of such obligations they are at a loss as far as putting the principles of their religion into practice is concerned.
The economic and social problems of the community need the active attention of the “good” people – and that, not only because their inactivity is a cause of scandal to the “weak”.
The Lay Apostolate
Pope John XXIII says: “Education to act in a Christian manner in economic and social matters will hardly succeed, in Our opinion, unless those being educated play an active role in their formation, and unless formal instruction is supplemented by activity undertaken for the sake of gaining experience.” There is a wide-open field for lay apostles in social action. In Trinidad and Tobago this field remains with the gate open but has hardly been entered. In particular is there urgent need for young people who are unselfish and willing to make sacrifices for others. The social doctrine of the Church is not merely “a set of abstract ideas but…capable of being translated into deeds.”
Principle to practice
To make this transition one must first understand the position in which one is placed or the situation with which one is confronted. In other words the situation must be reviewed or observed or seen. Then a judgment must be arrived at in the light of the principles which have been grasped. A decision should follow concerning what can and ought to be done to apply the principle to practise as far as the situation will permit. The three stages are summed up pithily in the terms: SEE, JUDGE, ACT.
The Thorndike Barhart handy dictionary has the following: “n. 1. Training, esp. of the mind or character. 2. Order among school pupils, soldiers, etc. 3. Punishment. – v. 1. Train. 2. Punish.”
Children speak of subjects in school – English, Arithmetic, Economics. It may also be said that economics is a discipline in the social sciences. The word also has the meaning therefore of “a body of knowledge.”
Chamber’s Twentieth Century Dictionary defines production as “1. Act of producing: that which is produced.”
Webster’s New World Dictionary defines produce as :1. To bring to view; show. 2. To bear; bring forth. 3. To make; manufacture. 4. To cause. 5. To get (a play, etc) ready for exhibition. V. i. to yield the usual product, n. something produced; esp farm products collectively.
Webster’s Dictionary uses the word “tolerant” in defining “tolerance”; and the word “tolerate” is used in defining “tolerant”. Tolerate is given the following meaning: “1. To allow; permit. 2. To recognise and respect (others’ beliefs, practices, etc.) without necessarily agreeing.”
Readers of the Catholic News
It should be easy for constant readers of this weekly to understand the implications of this motto. For years the paper has been placing before the public the principles of the Catholic religion with illustrations of their fulfilment in practice. Happy events in the lives of God’s children have been portrayed and the suffering of the underprivileged, oppressed and the persecuted has been recorded. The very motto of the paper is: In Essentials Unity; In Non-Essentials Tolerance; In All Things Charity