JUSTICE and SOLIDARITY Justice, Non-violence, Integrity of creation
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Saying No to Misery
The World Day to Overcome extreme poverty is celebrated each year on the 17th of October. In Saint Brieuc, France (Brittany), Saturday, October 20, about fifty walkers from different Associations took the direction of the Place des Droits de l'Homme (the Human Right Square), in the heart of the city center, through the streets, bridges and road works. We started off from the Emmaus Thrift Shop (a shop offering new and used items and helping individuals who are in the process of social reintegration from the “Emmaüs” Association created by Abbé Pierre). On this beautiful sunny afternoon, people walked along a well police secured route for an hour long demonstration waving banners and walking cheerfully to the rhythm of a djembe.
As we arrived at the Place des Droits de l'Homme, which is surrounded by the Town Hall, the Prefecture, the Cathedral and the Community centre for Social Action, the walkers were welcomed by an orchestra composed of primary school children from the school of La Vallée: their music beautifully chanted with an implacable rhythm, added color to the banners placed at the bottom of the sealed slab of the square in honor of the victims of poverty, a copy of the slab of the Esplanade of the Libertés des Droits de l'Homme, Trocadéro Square, in Paris.
"Where men are condemned to live in misery, the human rights are violated. Uniting to enforce them is a sacred duty.” Father Joseph Wresinski (1917-1988), French Priest and founder of the Human Rights Movement ATD Fourth World (justice and dignity for all), initiator of the fight against illiteracy. It is where the slab is placed that were held a public cross discussion around 3 tables: the view of others which confines, the loneliness which imprisons and the help which sometimes hinders freedom. 3 topics of discussion stemming from the statements of those who live in poverty, distress, in the total lack of everything: food, housing, friendship… Impressive moments during which we were invited to share what we thought could avoid people from enduring such experiences, while there were some among us who go through them… such as this handsome young man perched on a bench, living on the street, telling us without arrogance how people to whom he simply wanted to say hello, avoided him, shouted at him, referring to him as a beggar... or that other hooded person, making a strong statement on how she was sent from office to office for needed help only to be endlessly put on hold… or this other person where his visual impairment would put him in solitude if it wasn't for the help of a neighbor!
Taking the floor, Mrs Le Diouron, City Mayor, committed herself to fight against misery, following what has already been done in the conurbation.
Rich afternoon of meetings where whoever we are and whatever our condition of life, we all felt moved to action by this urgent call to change our behaviors which weigh on those who live in distress! And so only modest testimony of the one who went out of it -that I was lucky to hear- created at the heart of those who are in the malheur, a soft sun of hope.
Sister Marie-Thérese Héliès in the exchange with Sister Jeanne Landuré. Several other Daughters of the Holy Spirit were present. Published October 22th, 2018.