Kara Maurer, an intern from Columbia University in New York, was inspired by Joseph Wresinski’s speech in 1977 and wrote about how the speech is relevant to our society today. Read below.
Forty years ago, Father Wresinski gave a speech calling for cooperation between the people and the government of France to stand up for the oppressed. As I read his words as an American at the beginning of a new presidency, they are full of exhilarating relevance:
“First, we expect that its Head, the President of the Republic, recognize publicly that he represents and defends the interests of unrepresented minorities; we want him to see to it, as soon as possible, that the Fourth World gets the means for its socio-economic, cultural and political freedom; he must above all ensure that the Fourth World is represented on all forums where other citizens can make themselves heard.”
Father Wresinski calls for an open dialogue and offers the Fourth World Movement’s knowledge so that we can bring an end to the cycle of poverty. The government should support society’s efforts to end exclusion, no longer accepting the silence and destitution inflicted upon unrepresented minorities. I’ll be honest, with all that President Trump has done so far, I’m afraid that this won’t be a priority. It seems like excluded groups are becoming even more excluded. The appeal from forty years ago easily could have been one made yesterday.
I feel a call to action as I read on, to enact an alliance between the excluded and included in society that defends the cause of those who have been rejected. Why can’t I give up a little of my own comfort to stand up for the excluded? Father Wresinski says that it’s the people who ultimately decide where society is going to go. We have to stand up in love to make room for everyone at the table. It doesn’t matter what political party we align ourselves with. In fact, we need people in every party to speak up to change their party’s values so that all sides stand for the marginalized.
Father Wresinski writes that churches need to become safe havens and that average people must campaign against the exclusion and indignity afforded so many. Religious or secular, rich or poor, educators, researchers, politicians, doctors, or journalists, we all have a role to play in protecting the underprivileged and those experiencing poverty and in reminding our government that we won’t stand for oppression. We won’t stand for injustice. We won’t stand for hatred. “All of us will take the commitments of the movement into account, giving all we can in our campaigning, our justice and our love.”
Forty years ago, Father Wresinski was talking to a group of people in France. Today, he is talking to us. I, for one, want to listen.
If you want to read his entire speech, I highly recommend it. You can find it here.