Kairos n°11


The holidays will have given their usual share of organized charity. Every year, there is no doubt that poverty is getting worse. Charity works, better than ever. Not in what the middle and upper classes give, but in the publicity it receives and the importance it is given. Because the poorer the poor get, the more those who were still managing to get by slip into the statistics, the richer others become. And the more important it is, in order to maintain the structures that impoverish, to « reconcile » the poor and the rich, to make people forget that the two are inextricably linked.

So yes, there is in the goodwill of some individuals a real humanity, a decency that has in itself nothing bad. But organized and recuperated by media or political structures, it becomes an instrument at the service of order; an emotional recuperation without long-term objective, politically empty. Reassuring and guilt-relieving for some, the only way for others to access a form of organized solidarity in a society that does not really want us to organize ourselves to change it.

Reassuringly, an employee of the European Commission had organized the collection of 2,700 kilos of toys for « disadvantaged children », as part of a campaign relayed and organized by a Belgian commercial radio station. In this campaign to collect toys for « poor children », the National Lottery, the first patron of the country, was present and official sponsor. « Get scandalously rich »… no, they weren’t talking about that. Not even the« December of dreams » which offered us « three opportunities to dream: on December 13, 24 and 31, 3 Super Lotto to distribute 13,000,000 euros in total ». They did not talk about it, but in the consciousness of the individuals the deep values carried by the « great giver » were inscribed: to become rich, even if it is in a way that « shocks by its immorality and its excess in cynicism »(1).

What meaning, what sign is behind all this? The Lottery, which has organized a voluntary tax since colonial times, redistributes crumbs of its winnings, giving to the poor while touting wealth. What to understand? Everything! Everything we’ve always been led to believe. That wealth and poverty were two untied things. That one had nothing to do with the other. The only thing that remained was the one responsible — for his wealth or poverty -: the rich man was rich because he had worked and thought — but not because of his birth and the exploitation of others — and the poor man because he had not done so…

Don’t talk about structures, about an organized form of poverty! « You’re a killjoy! ». By the way, « a country needs rich people. To invest, to take risks. The system should ensure that the wealthy, and others, have an interest in investing their money in the real economy of the country rather than seeking high returns elsewhere ». Everything is said… in the editorial of one of the most read French newspapers (La Libre of January 6).

Between those who are fed daily with the illusion of future scandalous wealth, those who are already rich, and the others to whom the crumbs of the financing of the former are distributed, does not the great reconciliation take place?

Alexandre Penasse

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