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Better Together provides a space to share experiences with – and strategies for engaging – three critical global issues that PC(USA) global partners are challenging us to address together as the body of Christ.  These three issues are 1) addressing root causes of poverty, especially as it impacts women and children; 2) sharing the Good News of God’s love in Jesus Christ; and 3) working for reconciliation in cultures of violence, including our own.  The purpose of Better Together is to feed a conversation to shape concrete action strategies at the October 2012 “Dallas II: Better Together” consultation and beyond. 

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July 30, 2012

Addressing the Structural Causes of Spiritual Poverty

by Clotilde Loza, UMAVIDA Network

In Bolivia today, faced with planetary crisis, public debate considers a new paradigm for civilization: Vivir Bien, or Living Well, building new ways of living together in harmony with all creation. This new proposal arises from the need to begin constructing a habitable world with equitable and right relations. Thus far under the capitalist logic of unbridled accumulation we have seen deepening inequalities—inequitable and unjust conditions that affect the most vulnerable populations, particularly women and children.

Women themselves are offering new proposals based on their knowledge, their experiences, their practices and their lives that have long been marginalized. They have not been taken into account so that the formulation of new public policies might improve the quality of life for women and children. But we need not only new public policies but also the construction and recovery of moral values, ethics and, above all, spiritualities of all our religions.

Many women have entered into market logic for their own survival, women faced with violent situations who need economic independence to put an end to abuses of authority by their partners. Nevertheless there is also a void that their sons and daughters cry out to see filled; family life, love, affection. I believe that in disregarding these values we build homes characterized by individualism and a lack of solidarity, by consumerism and competition, that open into a world full of violence.

Organizations that work with and for women think that every subject must be regulated by law. For this reason we have long promoted measures and strategies to ensure that our public policies and laws might improve the lives of women and children. But intrafamiliar violence, for example, is only being addressed from a legal viewpoint: punishment. We still lack strategies to work with couples, with nonviolent education for children. We must see the structural side of things, but in combination with the human side, the sensitivity that still can be recovered, because now we realize that violence is generating many negative consequences in the lives of our children.

Ever since women first assumed their roles as daughters, mothers, spouses, they have taken on a responsibility in society that remains unvalued. Although Bolivia has made some minimal advances in education, health, and political participation in decision making, this does very little toward responding to the millennium development goals.

Here I remember the commandment that our Lord gave us with all his love… You will love your neighbor as yourself. We must listen to what God means to tell us in the face of so many inequalities that exist in our countries, in our populations, that serve the interest of unbridled accumulation by a few.

We must choose to continue working to rebuild the trust between us and especially with our children, who are the present and the future of our nations. A co-worker once told me, “With each boy or girl who is born… God still has hope in humanity.”

We must choose to measure our advocacy in terms of the values it builds up, valuing life. As long as our vision of what we want in life does not change, in our world we will continue building countries according to development models of competition, exploitation, and inequality.

Tags: bolivia, dallas ii, poverty, women, world mission