Social cohesion and fraternity
Fundación Cláritas works on the basis of two fundamental pillars: social cohesion and fraternity.
Latin America suffers a deep “social cohesion deficit”. In accordance with the report of CEPAL (Economic Committee for Latin America) published on May, 2007 this is the greatest evil that the region is going through: the loss of strength of social bonds and of the bonds of belonging, the lack of a community with cooperation principles that permits to define a future for all.
The report explains precisely the objective and subjective causes of the deficit and the aspects to work on in order to overcome it. Among the first-mentioned causes stand out poverty and indigence. As long as there are significant sectors of population in poverty we cannot advance towards a more cohesive society. Even tough in the last years some aspects have improved in the region thanks to the sustained economic growth, there are still no significant changes in historical and structural factors that place many Latin-Americans in a situation of poverty and indigence.
The second cause that CEPAL mentions is the existing deep injustice. It is almost common ground saying that Latin America is not the world’s poorest region but the most unequal and injust. The gap separating the greater income population sector from the poorest sector is the biggest of the world. It is impossible that a society so unequal in the distribution of income and opportunities of access to employment, education, health care, and exercise of citizen’s rights may work and live together cohesively.
Lastly, and this might be the most innovative contribution of the CEPAL report, in Latin America there are not only objective elements that threaten social cohesion – as poverty and injustice- but also subjective elements affecting citizens. The report indicates among others: lack of sense of belonging, mistrust of institutions and the prevailing individualism.
|On the basis of this diagnosis we can understand what is the raison d'être of Fundación Cláritas and its deepest vocation: to contribute to improve social cohesion in Latin America.|
For that reason we consider not only the objective causes of cohesion deficit, but also the subjective ones.
We work directly on poverty, indigence and inequality by promoting the work of:
- Social entrepreneurs that work with individuals suffering different forms of exclusion.
- Economic entrepreneurs that include their initiatives in the framework of social and solidary economy.
- Political actors that participate in the design and operation of public policies leading to greater social cohesion.
In addition, we work on the subjective factors of cohesion deficit, generating education paths for these actors on the basis of the common ethics of transformation and social change.
Universal fraternity is the fundamental ethic principle of our education proposals. This principle highlights the common nature of human beings and reaffirms the responsibility towards one another, the duty of solidarity and respect over existing differences. It is so stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
In the fragmentation context described, fraternity is a principle of utmost importance for the present of Latin America. It permits the consideration of the multifaceted aspects of social cohesion: socioeconomic inclusion, recognition of diversity, trust in institutions and the reinforcement of solidarity and the sense of belonging to the community.
The principle of universal fraternity has immediate consequences for contents, procedures and for the purpose of political, economic and social action.
In contrast with the current paradigm, in which the fundamental content of political and economic action is the accumulation of power and goods, the principle of fraternity entails an equal distribution of power and goods. Fraternity calls for the overcoming of acts of injustice and the inequalities inherent in the human condition. In the socioeconomic sphere it means giving the opportunity to each individual to be the architect of its development. In the political sphere it means empowering those who have less power and thus creating the conditions for an effective participation.
The quintessential method of fraternity is dialogue and the search of consensus from the basis of the greater plurality of opinions possible. Dialogue does not mean the mere exchange of positions but the recognition of others as valid and necessary interlocutors. Fraternity, therefore, calls for the creation of affirmative action mechanisms so that no interlocutor may be excluded a priori or may be in inferior conditions to participate.
Dialogue is not an end in itself. The purpose of fraternal dialogue is a fraternal society. Therefore, fraternity has the purpose of a political, economic and social project including everybody in the possibility to dialogue, to deliberate and to make decisions.
| This understanding of the principle of fraternity lays the foundations for the upholding of the ideals of democracy and creates the conditions for a strongest achievement of fraternity in the region.|